Roosevelt Middle School students staged a walkout Friday morning to protest gun violence and call for reformed firearms laws in the wake of a gunman massacring 19 children and two teachers in a Texas school earlier this week.
The students marched from Roosevelt Middle School with many carrying signs demanding something be done to end the regularly reoccurring episodes of school shootings in America. Many were just a little older than the children killed in Texas.
"We went out and we just spoke from our hearts," said Oliver Coelho, 14. "We feel fear every day. I know I do. I know I feel fear every day, and I know that this is unacceptable. This just can't happen — human life has to have worth."
Details about the massacre at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, still were emerging Friday, including that police apparently delayed entering a classroom to stop the violence. What was clear is 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, wielding a semi-automatic rifle, gunned down 19 children, some as young as 9, along with their teachers Tuesday.
'Wrong decision': Police should have confronted Texas school gunman sooner, official says
Emma Pettersson, 12, said she walked out Friday with both her parents and her 10-year-old brother on her mind.
"My parents had to tell him last night that that could have been him. No parents should have to say that to a 10-year-old kid, that they could have been shot," Pettersson said. "No more shootings. This is absurd. This shouldn't happen regardless. There shouldn't be any shootings. No kid or anybody should ever be shot. This is unacceptable."
They joined students at more than 200 schools in at least 34 states plus the District of Columbia who walked out Thursday in response to the Uvalde massacre.
The students' signs were unambiguous. Some read: "Lawmakers care more about fetuses than our lives;" Protect kids not guns;" "I shouldn't have to be afraid to come to school;" and "Gun control isn't a question, it's the answer."
"So many kids were shot in Texas we really felt like we needed to do something urgent about it. And us not being able to vote or really be heard, this is the best way we felt like we could be heard," said 13-year-old Isabella Young.
For 13-year-old Natalie Utsey, the question of a right to own guns versus the safety of children is no question at all.
"We have a constitutional right to bear arms, but we also have a right to safety, and that is more important," Utsey said. "Gun rights need to be regulated so this does not happen again."
Asked if they expected anything will change this time, few students could be confidently optimistic.
"It's a huge tragedy what happened, and I think it broke a lot of people's hearts," Coelho said. "Sometimes I wonder when it'll stop. Sometimes I wonder if my future kids will have to experience this type of fear."
Contact reporter Adam Duvernay at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @DuvernayOR.
This article originally appeared on Register-Guard: Roosevelt Middle School students walk out to protest gun violence