Five students vocalize views on gun control at Jones walkout


From left to right: Escobar, who focused on both her family’s experiences and society standing together as a family to combat gun violence; Hamilton, who highlighted the fact that the Constitution is meant to guarantee the American people freedom, not harm, advocating for legislative change; Wright, who called for justice for friends that have fallen, frightened students, and minority populations that have been facing gun violence for years with no response; Lannert, who emphasized that she did not want to become a statistic in her next three years at Jones; and Nwosu, who described the horrific norm she and her peers now face as gun violence rages throughout the country, calling for them to stand with her and march for a better future.

At around 10:10 a.m., students eagerly gathered to hear their peers speak and contribute to Jones’ Walkout Against Gun Violence. After 170 seconds of silence to honor the 17 lives lost at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, five passionate students’ voices followed.

Standing on a small power plyo box with a microphone in hand, the five Jones women called for change regarding gun violence. Prior to the walkout, students were able to submit short speeches about their views on gun violence. After 13 submissions, the five chosen to speak were Kai Wright ‘18, Nora Lannert ‘21, Ana Gabriela Escobar ‘21, Olivia Hamilton ‘19, and Rachel Nwosu ‘18.

“I came to the walkout to bring change, because if the people that are supposed to do it aren’t doing their job, then the public has to start doing something about it,” said Escobar.

Not long after the speeches started, people were hanging out of windows and getting out of their cars, eager to hear what the students had to say.

Each speech wove together striking statistics – 135,000 students who have been exposed to gun violence since Columbine and over 200 school shootings in the speakers’ lifetimes – with anecdotes of siblings frightened from experiencing lockdowns and of grappling with the deaths of young loved ones who had fallen victim.

“This has always been a part of my life and it shouldn’t be something that is a part of my story,” said Lannert. “We shouldn’t have to worry about if we are going to be safe at school, if someone is going to come threaten our school during school hours, or even outside of school hours.”

In addition to advocating for an end to gun violence on behalf of the students that have fallen victim, Wright, Hamilton, and Nwosu emphasized the need for legislation change for the thousands of citizens that have been targeted by gun violence because of their race.

“Gun violence is something that, as someone who grew up on the West Side, I’ve become kind of desensitized to. It’s interesting that people are only now realizing the gravity of our situation, and it’s also interesting that it’s now our situation,” stated Nwosu.

Many of the speakers called specifically for gun control reform, arguing that Congress needs to make a change in the way it views the issue.

“Now, we must work with legislation to make sure that we won’t have to fear for our children’s lives when they go to school years from now, or when they go to a party, or when they have a pack of Skittles in their hand outside of a 7/11,” said Hamilton in her speech. “We must use our voices to fight against politicians profiting off of machines that are catalysts for murder. The future isn’t Democratic or Republican, it’s standing in front of me.”

As each speaker stepped down and passed the microphone off to their peers, the crowd grew more invested, rippling cheers and snaps as each one made their points. If there was one unifying theme between what each of the five speakers chose to say, it was a call to action for those listening.

“I may still have 2 years, 9 months until I can vote, but I’m not going to stay silent while my peers, my classmates, and my friends lose their lives,” chanted Lannert, to the cheers of the hundreds of students before her. “I will not sit back and watch. Join me in demanding a change in gun reform so that we have a tomorrow.”