Horns honked supportively from passing cars while dozens of Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) students gathered on the side of Edgartown–Vineyard Haven Road to honor the 21 victims of the Robb Elementary School shootings that occurred on Tuesday, May 24, in Uvalde, Texas. Students waved signs asking, “How many more?” and, “If not now, when?” Other signs demanded: “Keep our schools safe!”
The Uvalde school shootings were the deadliest attack in American history since the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School murders in Newtown, Conn. The Uvalde shootings also mark the 27th school shooting in 2022, according to CBS News.
According to an email sent out by Martha’s Vineyard Public Schools, the MVRHS walkout was part of a national walkout organized by the advocacy groups Everytown for Gun Safety and Students Demand Action. Martha’s Vineyard Superintendent Matt D’Andrea also sent a letter to parents about the safety measures the Island was taking for schools. The letter provided guidelines for parents on how to support children, and talk to them about tragic events like school shootings.
The Times talked to some of the MVRHS students who participated in the walkout. All of them shared the sentiment that “enough is enough.”
“I just think that it’s time people in our community and our country recognize it’s an issue anyone can face. Just because it didn’t happen here doesn’t mean it can’t happen here,” senior Lila Mikos said. She added that a school is a place for students not only to study but develop as people: “As students, we just want to feel safe.”
“I think this is enough. I have a brother in third grade, and hearing about all of this stuff, I’m like, ‘What happens if it was my brothers? What happens if it was my school?’ This needs to stop. All of this hate and racism, we’ve been trying to get rid of this. It’s been ongoing for so long, it needs to end. This needs to end,” sophomore Bryonie Brown told the Times.
The Uvalde school shooting comes 10 days after the racially motivated mass shooting in Buffalo, N.Y., that targeted a Black community. During the same month, NBC News reported an anti-Asian shooting in Dallas, Texas, and ABC7 Los Angeles reported a “politically motivated” shooting at a Taiwanese church in California.
The news about the Uvalde shooting was a frightening prospect to MVRHS students. “I feel like it’s scary, as a student myself, knowing that there are other schools around the world where incidents like this can happen, and kids my age can get their hands on firearms,” junior Brayden Scheffer told the Times. “I feel like the U.S. definitely needs to take action and enforce the gun law more.”
“As a student, I feel scared because at any moment someone could enter a building and, you know, accidents can happen. But I think MVRHS does a good job on keeping students safe,” senior Miguel Jarillo said.
Junior student Marcos Rodrigues also felt scared “as a student.” However, he felt people needed to use their voices to enact U.S. gun law changes. “As a citizen, it’s just become such a regular occurrence. These school shootings [happen] every year, there’s a handful of them, and it’s become so unimaginable in the country,” he said.
Marcos also pointed out that gun lobbyists have made it easier for people, especially in Southern states, to purchase firearms. According to the Texas Tribune, the Uvalde shooter legally purchased his gun before his killing spree.
“It’s terrible, and sadly I don’t think a lot is going to change because we have a for-profit government that works at the behest of corporations. So I don’t think a lot will change,” Marcos said. “But we have to use our voice as people and demand that we want these gun laws in place because we’re losing a lot of people due to this, and we’re the only country in the world that has this problem, I feel like, and we really need to solve this problem, it’s horrible.”
Freshman student Mya Gardener believes that with effort, changes can be made to curb gun violence. “I just think it’s been going on for so long. We come to school to learn. We don’t come to school to live in fear of getting shot or hurt,” Mya said. “I think we can work toward gun violence and ending it.”