Students Hold Second Walkout for Gun Regulation

By Anna Chuo, Morale Officer

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Students held their second walkout this year to protest gun violence and lack of gun regulation on Friday, April 20, the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School Massacre. Along with a speech and Q&A with City Council Member Jimmy Flannigan, students could register to vote if they were old enough. The walkout was organized by juniors Kate Lee, Lilly Swank, Muhozi Nintunze, Mikayla Piwonka, and Taylor DeWitt.

“We wanted to do a walk out that would mean something,” Swank said. “We decided registering to vote, calling congressmen, and we definitely wanted to get a local representative here to talk to people and be a person to embody what action meant.”

The organizers of this walkout avoided having another open mic; instead they organized ways people could easily get involved in changing gun laws. Once the students had gathered in the band parking lot, the organizers passed out two papers. One had the phone numbers of current congressman and guidelines for what to say when contacting congressman to talk about gun regulation.The other had a list of candidates up for election in November who support more gun regulation. Council Member Flannigan spoke about taking action through voting or telling people to vote.

“All of these things are interconnected,” Council Member Flannigan said. “The transitions from George W. Bush to Obama, we went, ‘We got it, this is going to be great!’ And then we didn’t vote two years later. That’s what happened. Obama’s struggles, and the things that happened there at a very high level, were about the loss of the midterms in 2010. I think there’s also elements to talk about the failure of public education, defunding inner-city schools, and issues of land use and transportation that even affect Austin.”

A voting registration table for those 17 years and 10 months of age or older was set up. By the end of walkout, 18 people had registered to vote. Though most of the participants in the walkout couldn’t register, many were still excited about the prospect of voting once they were old enough.

“If I could vote right now, I would,” Andrew Crawford ‘20 said. “Sadly I can’t, but I definitely will when I’m 17 and 10 months. I believe 100 percent we can fix this, and we can make our school safer and our world a better place.”

About 150 people have registered to vote this semester through Ms. Lucy Sanchez, the volunteer deputy registrar (VDR) on campus. Ms. Sanchez is on campus full-time and certified to register Travis County residents.

“There is a single issue that has been inspiring these walkouts,” Ms. Sanchez said. “So if that issue is important enough, if you don’t vote, those lawmakers and those judges and those executive leaders in our political system will create situations that will cause our citizens to be concerned. If you don’t vote, you don’t have a voice.”

If you have not gotten a chance to register to vote yet or have just turned 17 years and 10 months old, visit Ms. Sanchez’s office in the main office of the school to register. The last day to register to vote for the November 6 elections is Oct. 9, and early voting begins Oct. 22.