Students walk out in honor of Columbine

By GIULIANA LEOTTA | April 26, 2018

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COURTESY OF GIULIANA LEOTTA Protest posters around campus displayed names of victims of gun violence.

On Friday, the 19th anniversary of the Columbine shooting, members of the Hopkins community staged a walkout to honor the victims of gun violence and to promote greater gun control measures. 

In 1999, two students at Columbine High School in Colorado killed 13 and injured many more in a mass shooting.

Participants gathered outside of Hodson Hall, then relocated to Brody where they drafted letters to their home-state lawmakers calling for increased gun regulation legislation. 

The letter-drafting initiative was put on by organizers and the group Ballots Not Bullets, which seeks to mobilize students to fight for gun control. 

Ballots Not Bullets is a national coalition but also has an informal branch at Hopkins formed by several students from the Student Government Association (SGA) and other non-affiliates.

Sophomore Caroline West participated in the walkout because she felt it was important to lend her voice to the cause. 

“We’re just trying to raise awareness of gun violence as a general issue and then draw attention to the Columbine shooting,” West said.

Although Friday was also the first day of Spring Fair, organizers said that they were committed to staging the walkout on the anniversary of the Columbine shooting. 

“It’s more powerful to remember the victims on the anniversary of the actual day itself. That’s why we stuck to this date, even though we know a lot of people are more focused on carnival rides,” West said.

Organizers taped posters around Hodson featuring the names of cities, events and people harmed by mass shootings. SGA Executive Vice President AJ Tsang explained that the posters were designed to educate passersby.

“I think that these posters are really having people slow down and reflect on what’s unfortunately transpired in the 20 years since Columbine,” he said.

According to Tsang, however, there needs to be action beyond remembering the victims of gun violence. 

“The goal with the letter writing is to engage with the practices of sustainable advocacy in gun violence and gun reform,” he said.

Organizers later moved the letter-writing table to Brody. Freshman Benjamin Monteagudo visited the table and wrote to a legislator in New York, his home state. 

He discussed his worries about the increase of gun violence in America and the lack of action on behalf of lawmakers.

“It’s very startling to me that some senators and people high up in the government are stupid enough to allow laws that don’t restrict these powerful guns, like AR-15s and machine guns,” he said.

Monteagudo explained that he fears the threat of gun violence for future generations.

“I don’t want my kids raised in an environment where I have to worry about them getting shot when they go to school,” he said.

Monteagudo does, however, recognize distinctions between gun regulation and total elimination of gun ownership. He thinks that people should still be allowed to possess guns.

“I don’t believe in taking away people’s guns,” he said. “But we have to make sure people have them responsibly.”

Monteagudo said that he appreciated the organizers’ efforts.

“I admire everything that they stand for and what they’re doing,” Monteagudo said. “I’m definitely pro-gun control and hope that one day we can find a solution.”

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