Schools should be “places of safety and education, not worries, doubts, and bullets,” according to students in Santa Clarita Valley.
Hundreds of students from high schools in Santa Clarita and surrounding areas joined thousands across the nation on March 14, when they walked out of school to protest gun violence in America.
And they had a clear message for Republican Rep. Steve Knight, whose district includes Santa Clarita: Stop accepting campaign funds from the National Rifle Association (NRA).
Other demands included a comprehensive assault weapon ban and a requirement that everyone purchasing a gun needs to pass a background check, even at gun shows and auctions.
“It’s not something that’s political, it’s not something that’s partisan,” said Valencia High School freshman Cassidy Bensko. “This is a matter of children dying and the government not doing absolutely anything about it.”
The walkouts took place exactly one month after the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, Florida. Students from more than 3,000 schools around the country walked out of class at 10 am local time, most observing 17 minutes of silence, in memory of the 17 students and staff who died in Parkland.
Unfortunately, Steve Knight has accepted $15,000 in total from the gun lobby, and judging by his votes, it was money well spent. He has an “A” rating from the NRA, and earned their endorsement. Knight had also, at the behest of Trump, joined with fellow Republicans to weaken gun regulations by “rolling back an Obama-era regulation that made it harder for people with mental illnesses to purchase a gun,” according to NBC News.
The NRA even emailed voters in California’s 25th Congressional District bragging how Knight “opposes gun control.”
Students are demanding a change in Knight’s behavior. According to the Hart District Walkout website, students are marching to make sure their government “hears the voices of thousands of students crying for their lives and futures, and places their conscience over money when it comes to creating policy.”
“We will send a message to our district representative Steve Knight as well as others so they understand this is not just a request, but a demand of the people,” the walkout website stated.
Students from schools all over Knight’s congressional district demanded more accountability from him.
“I’m calling on Rep. Steve Knight to return the blood money he got from the NRA,” Daniel McGreevy, a junior at Santa Susana High School, told the Simi Valley Acorn.
“I feel like I need to stand up for what I believe in and stand up for the 17 kids that died and all the Americans that die every single day,” West Ranch High School junior Alana Ingram told the Santa Clarita Signal. “Ninety-six Americans die every day die because of gun violence so I’m walking to end that.”
On the same day as the walkout, the group CA25 United for Progress unveiled a billboard reading, “Choose children over guns. Our congressman Steve Knight has an A from the NRA. Call him and ask why,” along with the phone number to his local office. The billboard, at the intersection of Magic Mountain Parkway and Railroad Avenue in Saugus, will be seen by roughly 175,000 people each week.
The NRA is surely pleased that Knight has voted to loosen gun control measures at every opportunity in Congress.
Meanwhile, “I just want to feel safe in the environment I’m in,” said West Ranch High School junior Maya Jackson.