United States

Bay Area Students Participate in National Gun Walkout

Bay Area students are joining other students across the nation who planned to walk out of class Friday to call for tighter gun control.

Over a hundred students from Notre Dame High School and Evergreen Valley High School gathered outside San Jose City Hall holding signs that call for tighter gun laws and chanting "never again" on the anniversary of the 1999 Columbine High School massacre in Colorado.

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo was also outside City Hall and praised the young activists for caring about the community. 

"There's something about this generation that gets it, about the fact that their voice matters and about the fact that they should care about the future of this country," Liccardo said.

At least 36 walks were planned across the Bay Area. Some students had planned to walk out of school and then pause for 13 seconds — one second for each person that were shot and killed at Columbine.

At Sobrato High School in Morgan Hill, student organizers set up a march to City Hall as well as a town hall with elected officials with students who didn't want to march off campus.

Zoie Wise, a senior at Sobrato High, said "Although this is a pretty safe area, I feel like anything could happen. It could happen anywhere and that means it could happen here."

Student organizers also set up an area where students younger than 18 can pre-register to vote. 

"I think it's really important to vote, that way their voice can be heard and they can make a change directly," Wise said.

Many of the students participating were not alive during the massacre 19 years ago, but the recent activism by students at a South Florida high school, who survived the Valentine's Day shooting that left 17 people dead, have inspired students across the nation to call for stricter gun laws.

"I think they've inspired every single student in the United States," Bay Area student Kira Galbraitch said.

"They've shown that they're not just going to stand down and let this happen again because it happens way too frequently. Many people say we are the generations of mass shootings. I have never lived in a world where there hasn't been a mass shooting."

The Parkland, Florida, students organized the March for Our Lives in Washington D.C. and across the nation, and they also participated in Friday's walkout.

Many of the school districts support the students' rights to free speech and expression. San Francisco Unified School District told NBC Bay Area that students who walk out of school will receive an unexcused absence and their parents will be notified.

A large group of SFUSD students gathered at Civic Center in San Francisco chanting "Hey, hey, NRA, how many kids have you killed today?" and "This is what democracy looks like."

On Thursday, some Bay Area students headed to the California capital to ask lawmakers to back four bills in support of tighter gun control.

The collection of roughly 300 students call themselves "Bay Area Student Activists," or BASTA for short, which translates to the word "enough" in Spanish.

Those four bills include raising the age of buying a long gun to 21, making confiscated weapon data public, waiving the fee for people seeking gun violence restraining orders and adding a bill that puts a lifetime ban on weapons possession for anyone convicted of domestic violence.

The National School Walkout website says nearly 2,500 walkouts were planned across the country on Friday, mostly at high schools but at some middle schools and colleges, including the University of Cambridge in Britain.

CORRECTION (April 20, 2018, 12:19 p.m.): An earlier version of this story has been corrected to say students of San Francisco Unified School District will receive an unexcused absence if they participate.

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