Six Students On Why They Organized The TX Capitol Walkout

Today, a group of young students and local activists are organizing TX Capitol Walkout, a day of action to walk out of school and march in support of gun reform.

As you probably know, student safety and gun reform has become a partisan, polarizing issue—a battle between different views on our Second Amendment rights. And when community concerns become politicized and split down party lines, it's often difficult to act. Where are the lines between safety and liberty drawn, and how do we navigate these differing opinions to inspire practical and immediate change? 

So, today, we'd like to introduce you to some of the high school student organizers behind the TX Capitol Walkout. We’re inspired by their commitment to critical thinking and making a difference. 


Julia Heilrayne, head organizer for TX Capitol Walkout, sophomore at Austin High.

Julia is an active member of the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Austin and works as a tutor, babysitter, and camp counselor. Julia is an activist for many issues including disability rights, women’s rights, LGBTQ+ rights, healthcare, and gun reform. Julia started advocating for gun law reform after loosing a 3rd grade girl close to her late last year to an unfair act of gun violence, and she is fighting to win the war for that little girl who lost the battle.

 

Bayley, student organizer

What I want is for “adults” to understand is that this movement is going to not only not stop, but it will grow with every generation until we see the lackadaisical culture around gun violence change. I’m passionate about this issue, because I know it is one that can be remedied with information because this is not a partisan issue and most people when you talk it out are on the same page with us and just don’t have the correct information. I want to see people foster an environment were empathetic conversion can be had about these issues. It hasn’t always been easy for me to have a conversation with someone who passionately disagrees with me, but in order to affect change people have to talk to each other. You’ll find that you can have more in common than you think.

 

Emma, student organizer

I am doing this, in short, because I’m tired. I’m tired of the waiting for change, the fear of the worst, and the constant ways people try to end the conversation. I am walking out because I am tired of the inaction, and I hope that this protest will help wake up some of our lawmakers into realizing that we are not giving up.

Michelle, head of social media committee for TX Capitol Walkout

I want adults to take the students who are fighting for gun control seriously. I also want everyone, not necessarily just adults, to understand what we mean when we say gun safety. There are a lot of misconceptions about gun issues, and I think that plays a role in why gun laws are never passed. We believe in common sense gun laws, like stronger background checks to insure weapons don't fall into the hands of criminals, or domestic abusers. On the day after the Parkland shooting my father woke up early, to give me and my little sister a hug and to tell us that he loved us. This showed me more then anything that our schools are no longer the safe place that had was promised all my life. The government has proven time and time again that they are not going to step up, so I’m hoping to take this opportunity to make a difference where they can’t.

 

Olivia, student organizer

We aren’t organizing the walkout to get out of school, we’re doing it to protect ourselves and all Americans. American lives are on the line because of inaction in Congress. I want to see more students believing in themselves. We have the power to change the world. I’d like to see less hate, in all forms. Whether it’s coming from an AR-15, or from a person.

 

Annabelle, head of logistics for TX Capitol Walkout

I would like adults to understand that children have a say in shaping the world. I want them to know that just because we are teenagers, that does not mean we can not change the world. This is an issue that concerns our lives, so we should not be overshadowed by adults. We have power. We have a voice. I am passionate because of the terror I have seen in my friends since this began. I remember receiving a text message from a friend telling me she was in the middle of a lockdown, freaking out because she didn’t know what was happening. I have so many memories of the fear that children face going to school every day. It is not okay for children to be afraid to get an education. I want to see children who do not have to live in fear. I want to see safer schools with tighter drills. For example, at my school the protocol to go through if you are in the hall during a lockdown is “run as fast as you can.” If you are in the restroom “climb on a toilet and close the door.” Schools need safer measures. Also, there must be more regulation of guns to prevent these issues in the first place. We need a lot more regulation and awareness. 

 


You can learn more about TX Capitol Walkout here.