Walkouts happen around the country on 19th anniversary of Columbine

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

By Victoria Rutigliano

It’s been 19 years since the school shooting that shook the country and brought a newfound fear into both students and parents when heading off to school.

On this day 19 years ago, April 20, 1999, 12 students and one teacher were shot and killed at Columbine High School in Columbine, Colorado.

According to the Washington Post, there have been 197 school shootings since Columbine. This number doesn’t include universities, suicides that weren’t a threat to other students, accidental discharges of the gun or shootings at after-hours events.

In 2018, there’s already been 11 schools shootings.

Columbine was the largest school shooting up until nine weeks ago, when 17 students and teachers were shot and killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Now students are taking matters into their own hands to end gun violence.

Jake Mauff, a Columbine High School 2015 graduate, was only 2 years old when the shooting occurred, but had teachers who lived through the tragedy.

“I heard their stories and it’s intense. It’s as intense as you’d think it would be. You know the places their talking about. It’s not a fictional world,” Mauff said. “They walked through the lunchroom where we eat lunch every day. So it hits close to home.”

Columbine High School released a statement in support of using today, April 20, as a day to reflect and serve instead of protesting. Mauff said he believes people should do whatever they think will help.

“Maybe today day should be a day of service but maybe today should be about spreading this message in a walkout. It’s whatever serves their conscience,” Mauff said. “The best thing I can do is keep them in my thoughts.”

Despite the principal of Columbine High School asking for today to be a day of service, students in Connecticut and around the country are using this day to protest the violence. Joining in with the hundreds of people around the country for the fight against gun violence there were at least 26 walkouts in Connecticut, according to the Hartford Courant.

The walkouts were spearheaded by Ridgefield High School student Lane Murdock, who grew up down the road from Newtown, Connecticut, where the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting happened in 2012.

“I think gun violence — even if you're not near a specific point of it — is something that is on the mind of our generation because we've grown up around it,” Murdock said in an interview with Teen Vogue.

Now Murdock is working to end the normalization of this issue by starting the National School Walkout foundation, which lead more than 2,500 schools around the country to walk out on the anniversary of Columbine, according to CNN.

The Foundation had more than 250,000 people sign up to protest gun violence today. From schools in upstate New York, to Detroit, and outside the White House, the youth are protesting change.