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Hickman students join nationwide walkout against gun violence

From left, Hickman students Opal Weber, Karli Jones and El Davis-Greene hold signs during a walkout at the school Wednesday, April 5, 2023. Dozens of students walked out in protest of gun violence following a deadly shooting in Nashville last week.
Halle Jackson
From left, Hickman students Opal Weber, Karli Jones and El Davis-Greene stand with signs during a walkout to protest gun violence Wednesday, April 5, 2023. Hickman students joined schools around the country to walk out of class at noon.

Dozens of Hickman High School students filed out of their classes in the chilly, windy weather to call for more shooting-related safety procedures in Columbia Public Schools at noon on Wednesday. Hickman’s Students for Change, which organized the walkout, joined in a nationwide protest against gun violence.

As of this report, there have been nearly 140 mass shootings this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive. That definition includes incidents where four or more people were shot or killed.

In schools, the K-12 School Shooting Database reports more than 100 shootings this year.

The walkout comes following a deadly shooting in Nashville last Monday and recent efforts from the Missouri legislature to ban red flag gun laws, which seek to keep people deemed a threat from owning firearms. That bill died in committee last week.


Students expressed grief and frustration at the walkout, including Students for Change’s co-Vice President Taylor Lee, who said gun violence is an obvious problem.

“This is happening so often, and I'm tired of walking into school scared wondering if I'm not going to make it out,” Lee said.

According to Lee, Wednesday’s protest was one of the largest walkouts Hickman has seen in the last few years.

“I think, sadly, I'm just not really surprised anymore and I think each time I just get a little more angry and a little more upset. And that's why we're out here today,” Lee said.

Other students shared similar sentiments.

"It's just so unacceptable, and we needed to do something. And especially with the school board election that just happened, our voices really, really matter. And we need to speak up," El Davis-Greene, the walkout's organizer, said.

Students protest gun violence outside of Hickman High School in Columbia, Missouri
Abby Lee
Students protest outside of Hickman High School in Columbia on Wednesday, April 5.

Some students led chants while others held signs. Helen Hinnant-Root, another student, read off the names of high schools that have been affected by gun violence this year and asked "Is Hickman next?"

"I hope that this is a message that we're not going to stop being here, and we're not going to stop speaking out about this," said Karli Jones, the sophomore president and founder of Students for Change. "It's really discouraging that I have to be here and that I have to have these conversations with people— I'm a sophomore. I'm 16. I can barely drive. And the fact that my biggest worry is getting shot in my own school is something that's really disheartening to me."

Jones founded Students for Change after gun threats at Hickman in 2021. The organization is working with students at Rock Bridge and Battle high schools to create two more clubs.

Students for Change is also creating their own trauma kits, which have medical supplies in the event of a life-threatening injury that might be sustained in a school shooting. They are also working on fundraising to get an AI-based security system for Hickman.

Abby Lee is a student at the University of Missouri studying journalism and women’s and gender studies. She has interned with mxdwn Music and The Missouri Review.
Halle Jackson is a senior in the Missouri School of Journalism studying cross-platform editing and producing.
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