Demanding Real Gun Control Laws, Parkland Students Reject Mandatory Clear Backpacks That Make School Feel 'Like Jail'

As survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting that killed 17 people last month prepare for the student-led “March for Our Lives” in Washington, D.C. on Saturday—part of a national movement to demand stricter gun safety laws—the Florida school district is implementing a new set of controversial rules after the explosion: among them, students will now be required to wear clear backpacks.

“We want to be safe, not uncomfortable. The only thing that can really have an impact on our safety is gun control.”
—Carly Novell, Marjory Stoneman Douglas student

Students from the Parkland, Florida high school and other skeptics turned to social media to criticize the measures, which were outlined in a letter to parents from Broward Schools superintendent Robert Runcie on Wednesday.

Runcie wrote that the district will provide free backpacks to students who don’t have them, issue identification badges that students and staff must wear at all times, and is reviewing other measures such as installing metal detectors—which the superintendent previously dismissed as ineffective.

A student at another school claimed a clear backpack mandate didn’t stop one of her peers from bringing a knife and bullets to school.

The Broward district’s announcement came after two Marjory Stoneman Douglas students brought knives to school this week, and the brother of the alleged gunman in the February shooting was arrested for trespassing on school property. The local sheriff’s department reportedly suspended a deputy without pay after he was assigned to patrol the campus but was found asleep on the same day that the brother was arrested.

While the Broward district imposes the new safety rules, its students, joined by supporters across the country, are pressuring state and federal lawmakers to overhaul gun laws in response to last month’s massacre, which is just the latest in the long series of U.S. mass shootings that are fueling the movement for reform. In addition to the march in D.C. set for March 24, student organizers have planned a nationwide walkout—the second since the Parkland shooting—for the 19th anniversary of the Columbine shooting on April 20.

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