Mid-South high school students join national walkout for stricter gun laws

Published: Apr. 5, 2023 at 7:56 AM CDT|Updated: Apr. 5, 2023 at 9:00 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Crosstown and White Station High School students joined the national cry for legislation to end gun violence on Wednesday.

Hundreds walked out at noon as part of National Walkout Day, organized by Students Demand Action for Gun Sense.

The action comes as the Tennessee General Assembly discusses measures to reduce gun restrictions in a state where gun-related injuries are the No. 1 cause of death for children and teens.

Just over a week ago, three students and three adults were shot and killed at The Covenant School in Nashville on March 27.

“Every day, I fear gun violence will affect my life,” White Station High School senior Presley Spiller told Action News 5. “It’s a privilege it hasn’t already.”

The tragedy sparked a wave of demonstrations across the United States—and at the Tennessee State Capitol in Nashville.

Students rally outside White Station High School in Memphis to demand gun reform legislation...
Students rally outside White Station High School in Memphis to demand gun reform legislation from lawmakers following the Covenant School shooting in Nashville, which claimed six lives, including those of three nine-year-old students.(Action News 5)

Hundreds of students and parents descended on the capitol to demand lawmakers pass legislation to make sure school shootings never happen again.

“Gun violence doesn’t just stop after the gun goes off. It manifests into homes, schools, communities, and in youth, till it takes over like a virus,” said Shania Lee, a Crosstown High School senior.

Three Tennessee State Representatives—Rep. Justin Pearson of Memphis, Rep. Justin Jones of Nashville, and Rep. Gloria Johnson of Knoxville—joined in the calls from their constituents and disrupted proceedings in solidarity, a supporting gesture that’s now landed the three in hot water that could see them expelled from the legislature.

But students at White Station High School say they’ve never felt “so heard” by lawmakers following the three Democratic representatives’ demonstration in Nashville.

On Wednesday, some students called Rep. Pearson a hero and vowed that no matter what happens when hearings for his expulsion take place on Thursday—they will keep the movement alive.

“Justin is one of the biggest inspirations in Memphis, especially as a person of color and someone so young,” said Spiller. “I know he’s been silenced, but one thing I want to say to him is to keep going. Keep fighting for us.”

The March 27 shooting is one of at least 33 incidents of gun violence on school grounds in 2023, with eight people killed and 25 injured nationally.

White Station High School senior Presley Spiller speaks to a crowd of hundreds of classmates...
White Station High School senior Presley Spiller speaks to a crowd of hundreds of classmates outside White Station High School in Memphis as a part of a national walkout calling for gun reform legislation after the Covenant School shooting in Nashville.(Action News 5)

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