San Diego students walk out of school in protest of gun violence

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SAN DIEGO - For the second time in two months, thousands of students from across the country streamed out of class Friday as part of a National School Walkout to demand action on gun reform -- even as Florida police investigate a fresh shooting that injured a student Friday morning.

Students walked out of class at 10 a.m. in each time zone to observe a moment of silence for shooting victims.

San Diego County schools with students walking out Friday included Chula Vista High, Hilltop High, Coronado, Point Loma, Mission Bay, Clairemont, Scripps Ranch, Bonita Vista, Canyon Crest Academy, Eastlake, El Camino, High Tech High, Hoover, Kumeyaay, La Jolla, Mission Hills, Olympian, Otay Ranch, Poway, Rancho Buena Vista, San Marcos, University City, Westview and more.

The Poway Unified School District said in a statement that officials at its schools "have been working with student leaders to coordinate safe places for those choosing to assemble and exercise their First Amendment rights on campus in supervised areas."

"All PUSD attendance policies remain in effect should any of our students choose to leave campus and not return," district officials said, adding that, per CIF policy, student-athletes must attend at least two-thirds of their classes in order to be eligible to practice or compete later in the day.

San Diego County Sheriff's Department addressed the local walkouts in a statement Friday.

"The San Diego County Sheriff's Department is aware several schools in our jurisdictions will be participating in the National School Walkout. We respect everyone's right to express themselves in a peaceful and respectful manner.

We would ask that students and administrators communicate with their local law enforcement particularly if they will be leaving campus to ensure their safety navigating roadways and the well-being of drivers and pedestrians.

For our students: please respect the instructions of school officials and if you hear any threats of violence or even potential violence, we encourage you to talk to one of our Sheriff's School Resource Deputies. The Sheriff's Department takes every threat seriously.

In addition, students can call the anonymous Crime Stoppers Students Speaking Out tip line at 888- 580-8477. Students, parents and the public can also call the Sheriff's Department at 858-565-5200."

National School Walkout renews calls for gun safety

Before Friday's walkouts began, the latest school shooting happened in Ocala, Florida, some 65 miles northwest of Orlando. Police said a student was shot in the ankle at Ocala's Forest High School, and a suspect is in custody.

Friday's walkouts, while drawing momentum from February's mass shooting at South Florida's Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, also marks the 1999 Columbine High School massacre in Colorado in which two gunmen killed 12 students and a teacher.

Many students across the country -- including current Columbine students -- say not enough has been done to help prevent mass shootings.

Besides observing moments of silence, other actions during the day will include marching to a local lawmaker's office, allowing open-mic time for students to share concerns and helping register those who are eligible to vote. Students at more than 2,500 schools were set to participate.

In Washington's Lafayette Square across from the White House, high school students gathered well before 10 a.m.

One of those demonstrators, Hiam Baidas of Falls Church, Virginia, said the country needs laws making it more difficult to buy guns.

"Right now I'm 18 years old, I live right across the street from Walmart, and I can go buy a gun -- and I don't think that's OK," she said.

"I think the youth are the movement that is going to change and better our country."

Teachers, too, are marking the day. At Stoneman Douglas High, where a gunman massacred 17 people two months ago in Parkland, Florida, teachers got an early start, demonstrating outside the building before classes began.

Those teachers combined calls against gun violence with requests for more school funding.

"Enough is enough!" they chanted, holding signs with messages such as "Children's lives > assault rifles," "Arm me with school funding" and "Arm me with better pay and lower class size."

But Stoneman Douglas students themselves may not see the same kind of leniency they saw when students walked out of class across the country on March 14.

Principal Ty Thompson told the students during Thursday's announcements that if they leave campus they will face disciplinary action. Several teachers told CNN that the disciplinary action will be an unexcused absence.

Students there still walked out just after 10, but some said they were planning to do acts of service on campus instead.

The organizer

Lane Murdock, 16, a sophomore from Ridgefield, Connecticut, launched the National School Walkout.

She was disturbed by her own reaction -- or lack thereof -- to the February massacre in Florida.

"When I found out about the shooting at MSD, I remember I didn't have a huge reaction. And because of that, I knew I needed to change myself, and we needed to change this country," Lane said.

"We should be horrified, and we're not anymore. It's American culture."

Lane said students should be empowered "to do the walkouts and become leaders in their communities, speaking up when they see inaction."

Push for legislation

The movement also encourages young people to push for legislation at the state level if Congress doesn't act.

"The federal government can set standards and practices that apply to all states around gun safety. But states have the option of passing additional measures to protect their own residents from gun violence," its website says.

Students are calling for several measures, including banning assault weapons, high-capacity magazines and bump stocks; mandating universal background checks; placing a minimum age of 21 on all gun purchases; implementing waiting periods between a gun purchase and gun transfers; and allowing families to petition a court to remove guns from individuals at risk of injuring themselves.

While there hasn't been major congressional action since the Parkland massacre, some cities and states have toughened gun control.

In Florida, after Parkland students rallied at the state Capitol, Republican Gov. Rick Scott signed a gun bill called the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act. It raises the minimum age to buy any firearm in the state to 21, bans the sale or possession of bump fire stocks and adds $69 million in funding for mental health services in schools.

In Vermont, Republican Gov. Phil Scott banned bump stocks, limited the size of magazines, expanded background checks for gun purchases and raised the minimum age to purchase firearms to 21.

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