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Students Around Puget Sound Region Walk Out Of School To Protest Gun Violence

Ashley Gross
Students from Ingraham High School and Lakeside School gathered on the Ingraham soccer field to take part in the national walkout against gun violence.

Students around the Puget Sound region, from Seattle to Renton to Gig Harbor, poured out of class as part of the national walkout against gun violence.

At Ingraham High School in North Seattle, hundreds of students gathered on the soccer field. They stood in silence to honor the victims of last month’s school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 people dead.

Seventeen-year-old junior Lukas Illa was one of the organizers at Ingraham. During the legislative session, he went to Olympia to lobby for tougher gun laws.

“We actually sat through the bump stock bill and all these Republican House members were – they’re not being supportive of the students’ beliefs, even though they claim to be on the side of students, and I was just saddened and angry,” he said. “And I wanted to change something, so I actually thank them in a way because it spurred our motivation to get involved and try to change what’s happening.”

State lawmakers did pass a ban on bump stocks, which are devices that allow semi-automatic weapons to shoot more like automatic firearms. Opponents had argued that the bill is an infringement on gun rights.

A separate bill to raise the minimum age for buying a semi-automatic rifle from 18 to 21 did not make it to the floor of either chamber for a vote.

Anna Justen, 17, is a junior at Ingraham who helped organize the protest. She also traveled to Olympia to lobby legislators during the recent session.

Credit Ashley Gross / KNKX
Walkout organizers Lukas Illa and Anna Justen

“I’ve thought about what would happen if a shooter came into my school, what would happen if a shooter came into the movie theater that I’m at?” Justen said. “It’s something that so many students fear and it has a huge impact on our lives, on our education. It’s very important to us.”

Justen said she’s looking forward to turning 18 in September, so she can vote in the mid-term election for candidates who support gun control.

India Bock won’t be old enough to vote in November. She’s 16.

“It’s crazy that we have a country where people that are under 21 – teenagers who can’t drink – can get assault rifles,” Bock said.

She also said she was disappointed that state lawmakers failed to pass much in the way of tighter gun laws. 

“It just really hurt that the only thing they could pass was a bump stock, which is just a tiny, tiny step,” Bock said. “I really hope that through this and through other actions that we’re taking that they understand that this is an issue that’s not going away and that we’re going to keep fighting for this.”

Ingraham students were joined by students from Lakeside School, a private school nearby. They broke into two groups and walked to the overpasses of Aurora Avenue and I-5, holding their signs and chanting, “No more silence, end gun violence.”

In July 2017, Ashley Gross became KNKX's youth and education reporter after years of covering the business and labor beat. She joined the station in May 2012 and previously worked five years at WBEZ in Chicago, where she reported on business and the economy. Her work telling the human side of the mortgage crisis garnered awards from the Illinois Associated Press and the Chicago Headline Club. She's also reported for the Alaska Public Radio Network in Anchorage and for Bloomberg News in San Francisco.