Using the hashtag #GunsDownGradesUp, which was trending locally on Twitter, the students marched from their schools downtown to call for stricter gun control legislation. Tweets about the event drew the attention of some high-profile figures, such as MSNBC’s Joy Reid and All Time Low guitarist Jack Barakat.
Tuesday’s event in Baltimore involves the Friends School of Baltimore, Baltimore City College, Mergenthaler Vocational Technical High School, Paul Laurence Dunbar High School, Baltimore School for the Arts and the National Academy Foundation School, among other schools, according to social media posts about the march.
The protest comes a few weeks after a deadly shooting at a Florida high school left 17 students and teachers dead. The students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas have become powerful voices for gun control, galvanizing a movement among young people across the country.
David Hogg, one of the most visible student activists from Marjory Stoneman Douglas, showed support for the Baltimore students.
The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, a Washington-based nonprofit that bills itself on its website as “a thought leader in the modern gun violence prevention movement,” also took notice of the Baltimore students’ efforts.
Waving signs with messages such as “WHO ELSE HAS TO DIE?” and “ENOUGH VIOLENCE,” a massive line of students marched the nearly five miles to the plaza outside City Hall, where Mayor Catherine Pugh and Baltimore Police Commissioner Darryl De Sousa addressed the students.
"America needs to hear the voices of the young people of Baltimore," Pugh said, adding that the city plans to organize 60 free buses to send local students to a national school walkout in D.C. planned for later this month.
Some Maryland politicians, such as Democratic candidates for governor Ben Jealous, Kevin Kamenetz and Alec Ross, acknowledged the demonstration on Twitter.
The Baltimore students have compiled a list of demands, including that Maryland lawmakers support two pieces of gun control legislation. One is dubbed the “red flag law,” and would allow judges to temporarily order gun owners to surrender firearms if they are deemed a danger to themselves or others. Republican Gov. Larry Hogan has endorsed the creation of such a law.
The students are also calling for a ban on detachable magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition. And they want all schools to establish social work and counseling services “to prevent the culture of violence,” among other actions.