CHS Responds to Gun Violence

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CHS Responds to Gun Violence

Ellie Dugan, Staff

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American students have taken to the streets in protest of nationwide gun violence and the recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida at Stoneman Douglas High School. In response, some CHS students have created the Student Movement Association. 

This organization, led by sophomore Ian Miller and junior Nicole Gunderson, seeks to raise public awareness of the dangers posed by certain firearms and the inaction of the government leaders to find a solution. 

“Currently, SMA’s main focus is promoting awareness and educating students on the senseless gun violence that plagues our country,” president Ian Miller explained. 

Miller described his group’s alliance with similar protest organizations. 

“Our goals largely follow those of organizations that run parallel to what we are trying to achieve.  [Some of our goals are to pressure leaders about] raising gun purchasing ages, closing the gun show loophole, making bump stocks and semi-automatic weapons illegal, and, on a local and state level, increasing security funds for public schools and passing red-flag laws and relinquishment laws,” Miller stated. 

Along with this organization to promote legislative efforts, the SMA serves to organize public movements within CHS.  This organization has become the leading motive behind two school-wide walkouts, the most recent of which occurred on April 20.  These walkouts’ focus was to promote inter-party unity and draw attention to the issues caused by gun violence within schools and civil society. 

CHS’s students began to talk.  They talked about the issues concerning gun violence and they talked about the SMA.  The organization gained a significant following among students during the walkout. 

However, like all political organizations, the SMA has opposition.  

“We encourage lively and civil debates on what is a very controversial topic,” said administrative representative Jack Corcoran.  “We have even encouraged counter-protesters to show up for our protests, with the goal being civil debate among the two sides.” 

Despite the presence of some inflammatory—and very non-civil–comments about the SMA and the walkouts, the organization went ahead with the walkouts. 

The first walkout occurred on March 14th on the one-month anniversary of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting and drew a large crowd of approximately 450 student protesters. 

The second walkout drew a lesser crowd of about half of the original participants. 

During the second walkout, on the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre, one of the most notorious school shootings, Catonsville’s students delivered speeches condemning the use of guns for mass shootings. 

The protest lasted for about twenty minutes and concluded with the return of most participants to their classrooms.  However, President Ian Miller, along with other members of the SMA, took the protest to Frederick Road. 

Despite the school’s prohibition of the walk to Frederick, many SMA members still chose to do it regardless of the threats posed by citations and detentions.  “A large number of members of the club are, on individual terms, willing to risk citation for ending gun violence in this county,” Miller had stated. 

Miller continued by explaining that, according to announcements made by colleges on Twitter, no students were in real danger by walking in the protests.  “It is important to note that the vast majority of colleges have come out and publicly supported the protests, while also stating that any disciplinary action taken against students involved in the March 14th and April 20th walkouts will have ZERO effect on the admission process,” he said. 

According to Miller, most students needn’t worry about the effects of participating in the walkouts on their acceptances to desired colleges. 

 The SMA has weekly and bi-weekly meetings in which officers and regular members discuss topics such as gun violence.  Any students interested in joining this organization should know that civil debate among members and students of Catonsville High is allowable by law.   

Official Instagram: (sma.chs)