South Florida Superintendents Back Student Walkouts Today to Protest Assault Weapons

At 10 a.m. today, thousands of South Florida students will set down their books and walk out of their classrooms for 17 minutes. Their message is simple: Ban the assault weapons and high-capacity magazines that helped Nikolas Cruz murder 17 kids and teachers in Parkland last month.

The walkout isn't officially sanctioned, and some schools have said students who participate could face discipline — but the protesters have high-ranking backers in South Florida's school districts. Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho tweeted his support for the movement this morning.

"To our aware, responsible, and inspiring @MDCPS students. Remember that while civil disobedience will be embraced today, your personal safety & that of those around you must be protected," Carvalho wrote. "Use your judgement as you stand for what you believe in. Represent us well."

Broward's superintendent, Robert Runcie, also backed the protests. He told Local 10 he's "proud of the students' focus and determination to turn their grief into action for positive change."

The national walkout, called #Enough and organized by Parkland's #NeverAgain movement and the Women's March, is meant to back a specific list of policy demands for Congress. In addition to advocating for gun control, the movement aims to expand background checks to all gun sales, pass a national law for gun-violence restraining orders, and end the militarization of police forces.

But organizers say they're also marching against the Republican-led movement to add more guns to schools by training staff or teachers to carry weapons.

If this week in Washington is any indication, those sweeping changes on gun control will have to come through an electoral change in D.C. Sens. Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson held a news conference yesterday with anti-gun-control Parkland student Kyle Kashuv to back the Stop School Violence Act — a measure with some meaningful funding to help police and school staff identify potentially violent students earlier.

But the bill includes zero gun restrictions. And as long as Rubio refuses to turn down contributions from the NRA — which has flooded his campaign coffers with more than $3 million to date — he seems unlikely to back any but the most cautious restrictions on guns. In fact, he still stands by a bill that would force D.C. to make purchasing assault rifles easier.

For other Parkland survivors, that's not nearly good enough:

Today's walkout is just a prelude to the March 24 March for Our Lives, which will send tens of thousands of demonstrators to Washington, and to other local marches in favor of gun control.

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