Hundreds of students in and around Huntington Beach joined a nationwide school walkout on March 14 to call for more action on gun violence in America. Their efforts were ignored by their member of Congress, Republican Dana Rohrabacher, who has accepted more than $50,000 from pro-gun lobbyists.
The walkout 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 a.m. local time, most observing 17 minutes of silence in memory of the 17 students and staff who died in Parkland.
Marina High School senior Daniel McKenzie said many of his classmates are afraid to go to school considering the weapons available in the United States, according to the L.A. Times.
In the days leading up to the walkout, Corona del Mar High junior Ayden Bird said the Parkland survivors, “triggered a shift in the anti-gun violence movement, telling us to demand action as opposed to request it.”
Unfortunately, the only change to gun laws backed by Rohrabacher is easing access to guns. In 2017, he joined a Republican majority to vote in favor of “rolling back an Obama-era regulation that made it harder for people with mental illnesses to purchase a gun.”
Rohrabacher has a long congressional history of weakening gun regulations. He has an “A” rating from the NRA, and a zero percent rating from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.
While many Republicans like Rohrabacher are used to bragging about their NRA endorsement, 2018 could be different.
“Where it coincides with the political realignment that’s occurring under Trump, the gun issue puts at risk a lot of these Republicans who have represented … suburban districts,” said Peter Ambler, the executive director of Giffords, the gun-control advocacy group founded by former Representative Gabrielle Giffords. The Atlantic’s Ronald Brownstein notes Rohrabacher sits in a “white-collar suburban” where voting “in lockstep with the NRA” could create political problems in November.
“All of us, regardless of political background, need to stand up and protect the lives of our youth,” said Bird, the high school junior from Corona del Mar.
Unfortunately, Rohrabacher’s loyalty to the NRA is a higher priority for him than the lives and safety of students.
This loyalty to the gun lobby, however, may be on the minds of students and their parents when they vote in November.