Cheney High School students walk out in protest to gun violence


Students at Cheney High School hold a rally outside by the front doors. They, along with students all over the country, have staged walkouts protesting gun violence and school shootings | Photo courtesy of the Spokesman-Review

By Josh Fletcher, News Editor

Near the end of the school day on Feb. 14, an expelled student returned to his old school to kill 17 students and faculty.

This is the seventh shooting to take place at a school during school hours, five of which resulted in the death of a student, according to the fact-checking website Snopes.

The students who survived the shooting in Parkland, Florida have seen enough of the gun violence in this country and are urging the president to take action.

“If the President wants to come up to me and tell me to my face that it was a terrible tragedy and how it should never have happened and maintain telling us how nothing is going to be done about it, I’m going to happily ask him how much money he received from the National Rifle Association,” said Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student Emma Gonzalez in a speech on Feb. 17.

Since the shooting, students across the country have started to take a stand against guns and gun violence, including students at Cheney High School last Wednesday.

“Everywhere in the world they have changed their laws to make it safer,” Cheney High School sophomore Maura Duffy said.

Students staged a walkout which gathered local media attention after it was live-streamed on Facebook by KHQ, which generated almost 1,000 real-time comments from viewers.

“I was excited for high school, but all the shootings have ruined that for me,” one of the students at the walkout said. “We need to say something because when we are silent, that is when shootings happen.”

Of the near 1,000 comments, many were critical of the students’ efforts to protest and enact change.

“Guns are not the problem it’s the kids we allow them to do too much and say too much and be heard too much they need to shut up big kids and freaking quit trying to be grown ups at 10 years old,” Rob Knight commented on the Facebook video.

President Donald Trump has suggested teachers be armed with guns themselves in order to protect students should a gunman attack.

“If you had a teacher who was adept with the firearm, they could end the attack very quickly,” Trump said. The president suggested arming about 20 percent of teachers, about 700,000 nationwide.

Those comments and suggestions were viewed unfavorably by teachers around the country.

“None of us entered this line of work to train for an unthinkable day when we’d be expected to shoot and kill one of our own students,” said Jamie Neely, the chair of the EWU journalism department, in an opinion piece in the Spokesman-Review.

“Students need to feel safe at school. As adults we need to provide that safe environment!” Anita Kane-Heath wrote on Facebook in response to the Cheney students protest.

Changing gun laws in this country is always a hot-button issue immediately after a shooting, especially school shootings. Many have tried before, after attacks like the one in 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., where 20 kids and six adults were killed. But tangible change remains elusive.

As of now there are at least three school walkouts and rallies scheduled around the country, the first taking place on March 14. The walkout, organized by the Women’s March’s Youth EMPOWER group, encourages students, teachers and administrators to walk out of their classrooms at 10 a.m. in every time zone for 17 minutes, one minute for each person killed in Parkland.

The second event, the “March for Our Lives” rally scheduled for March 24, is being organized by survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting and is taking place in Washington D.C. and other cities around the country.

The National School Walkout will take place on April 20, the 19th anniversary of the school shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado that killed 12 students and one teacher. Times and details for the walkout are still being finalized.