17 Minutes – Students Walk Out to Protest Gun Violence

By Tia Will

March 14 was a regular school day for elementary schools and high schools in Davis, the Bay Area and across the nation. It was also the day of a student organized 17-minute walk-out in commemoration of the 17 killed in Parkland, Florida, in one of the most recent mass shootings.

My daughter teaches science at a charter high school in the Bay Area. Her class joined with the adjacent elementary students in the 17-minute march.

In Davis, participating schools included Davis High School, DaVinci Charter Academy High School, Montgomery Elementary School, and Fred T. Korematsu Elementary School.

At UCD, it was finals week. Even at this time of increased academic pressure, at 10 o’clock, by my estimate approximately 75 students, lecturers, and community members gathered on the quad. A student organizer read the names of the 17 who were murdered in Parkland. A moment of silence was observed, following which a number of individuals chose spontaneously to address the group.

The issues raised by these individuals, speaking from their hearts with no prior expectation of participation, are what I would like to cover.

  1. The burden of fear. Two speakers referred to their younger siblings and the challenge for them of worrying on a daily basis that they, or their siblings may go to school one day and never return home. They questioned why we do not have the right to live without this fear.
  2. One woman brought up the limiting nature of anxiety. She mentioned that it had occurred to her that today’s observance, with us standing on the open quad in a circle, would have presented a perfect opportunity for someone armed with an assault rifle to open fire. She debated coming, then pushed through the anxiety, and came anyway. I had had the same thought, and from the looks of those around me, so had everyone there.
  3. A campus lecturer addressed the futility of the dichotomous nature of the debate over gun safety. She pointed out what should be the non-partisan nature of this issue. Those killed cannot neatly be divided into liberals or conservatives, nor can the assailants. All are at risk. The problem is not exclusively the gun or the shooter. It is the acquisition of the gun by a person with ill intent. Neither the individual nor the chosen agent of destruction should be ignored. The solutions are not mutually exclusive but should be fully inclusive and broad reaching.
  4. One speaker stressed that this is a local problem, not a red state problem. It is a real, not a theoretical problem. There is no location in this country that is safe from the possibility of a mass shooting. We cannot afford the luxury of thinking that this is “someone else’s problem” or that it “can’t happen here.”

Finally, a member of the Yolo County Chapter of the Brady Campaign Against Gun Violence informed the group of the planned March for Our Lives event at the Sacramento Capital on Saturday 3/24. It was pointed out that the Yolo County Chapter is organizing car pools and a more general invitation was made to those interested in partnering with the Yolo County Brady Campaign, which maintains a Facebook page.

I would also like to extend the same invitation to any Vanguard readers who have an interest in this issue, which is indeed local as well as national.


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About The Author

Tia is a graduate of UCDMC and long time resident of Davis who raised her two now adult children here. She is a local obstetrician gynecologist with special interests in preventive medicine and public health and safety. All articles and posts written by Tia are reflective only of her own opinions and are in no way a reflection of the opinions of her partners or her employer.

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  1. Ken A

    We need more math and statistics in the schools so kids will worry less when they understand that there are MANY more people are struck by lightning and also MANY more people winning more than a million dollars in a lottery each year than are shot in a school.  Without Sandy Hook and Parkland since we would have more Americans killed by bears since 2010 than we have students killed in a school (with the Sandy Hook and Parkland deaths slightly more American students were shot in schools)…

        1. Jerry Waszczuk

          I asked you because your argument or comparison about Americans incidentally  killed by wild bears and children  murdered in schools by maniacs or psychopaths using assault rifles  is  quite disturbing .


        2. Ken A

          It is sad every time anyone is killed by a wild animal, a person with a gun or a dog in their own home but fortunately all these things are VERY unlikely to happen to any of us or our kids &  grandkids .  It is OK to have a little “anxiety” when sleeping alone in the Alaskan wilderness, or when the school, sheriff and FBI won’t do anything to the gun owning crazy kid who keeps telling people that he plans to shoot up your school or when a baby is alone with a Pit Bull, but anyone that has “anxiety” when walking around the UCD campus needs both some information about how VERY unlikely it is that anything bad  will happen and probably someone who can help them work through issues causing the anxiety.

    1. Alan Miller

      Without Sandy Hook and Parkland since we would have more Americans killed by bears since 2010 than we have students killed in a school

      KA, I guess you missed the memo that the nationwide student walkout against homicidal bears is next Tuesday.

  2. Tia Will


    Perhaps gun owners and the NRA  also need more understanding of the statistical risks of having their guns confiscated and/or needing to fend off assailants using their very own AR-15, the chances of which are less than any of the items you listed.

    1. Ken A

      Every gun owner I know realizes that the chance of a home invasion or civil unrest in Davis is low, just like the chance of their home catching on fire is low.

      Despite the low risk of fire and/or carbon monoxide in my home I spend ~$200 every ten years on a bunch of combo smoke/fire/carbon monoxide alarms and over $200 every six months on fire insurance.

      If a guy buys a used AR for ~$200 when he turns 18 and lives to 88 (70 more years) he is just paying about $3 a YEAR for insurance that he will most likely never need.

      P.S. Despite the relatively low cost per year of having an assault rifle I have decided that my risk of home invasion is about the same as the chance of me having a winning lottery ticket (close to zero since I have never bought and never plan to buy a lottery ticket) so I don’t own or plan to own an assault rifle…

        1. Ken A

          More kids are killed and injured every year by knives in the home than assault rifles in the home.  We have “non-monetary” risks every day we walk (or let our kids walk) around town…

  3. Sharla C.

    Terrorism does create fear and this fear limits the activities of people.  More than one person, both mentioned in this article and others on social media, has mentioned that a large gathering of students off and on campus might be a perfect opportunity for someone with an assault rifle to mow them down, even though none of the school shooters waited for that scenario.  This is an irrational response to a terrorist act.  Some felt that forcing students to stay on campus would keep them safe, but I think they are missing the point.  School shooters went to classrooms and libraries, walked down halls, etc. looking for their victims.  The point is that when someone is determined to go to a school and create mayhem, no where is safe on that campus, no matter what manner of security practices are implemented.  Parkland High had implemented all of the various security plans –  fences, visitor pass system, even hiring an onsite armed police officer to provide security and it still didn’t prevent the tragedy.   I believe the focus of this student originated protest is lax gun regulation.   One part of the problem is upset or mentally ill youth who have legal access to assault and other weapons.

    1. Alan Miller

      The point is that when someone is determined to go to a school and create mayhem, no where is safe on that campus, no matter what manner of security practices are implemented.

      Or off campus. If they put a prison fence around the place, the shooter will just wait until everyone files out the front gate after school.  There is no solution.  It’s like trying to prevent suicide by rail by putting up a fence on one side of the railroad track.  Oh, yeah, Union Pacific did that in Davis, and suicides and rail deaths in general increased.  At least they tried, right?

      Similarly, I have suggested at my place of work that the plan that each room meet in the same place outside for fire drills is a recipe for laying out easy targets for an active shooter, who is often on a revenge spree against an individual or group that the shooter perceived being wronged by.  Why allow them to pull a fire alarm and wait as everyone walks to a bullseye?  No luck so far changing policy.

      The difference is, you can prevent getting killed by a train by choosing not to walk on the tracks.  Not as easy to choose not to go to school.

      1. Tia Will


        There is no solution.”

        There is no single solution. That does not mean that there are not many steps that we could take for harm reduction. Both sides need to stop thinking in absolutes and start thinking in ways to lessen both the risk and the severity of harm.


  4. Tia Will


    I think that your comment is congruent with many expressed. This is a multifactorial problem and will need to be addressed in a variety of ways. While it is true that an event can be very rare, that does not mean that we respond rationally or logically. Take for example the outbreak of Ebola. Many more Americans died that year of the flu, and yet because of the dramatic presentation and hysterical media coverage, we wasted millions of dollars on precautionary measures for something that was occurring in West Africa and had virtually no possibility of an outbreak here because of differing cultural practices and infrastructure. I made this point on the Vanguard at the time and most posters felt the expenditure was justified even as our hospitals had people dying of the flu.

    What we have is a slow rolling epidemic. It involves not only schools, but military bases, concerts, clubs, churches…. What we also have is a profit motive and a partisan divide that will not allow so much as the ability to freely research the underlying causes and act to stop further outbreaks.

    1. Howard P

      We pretty much know the primary “underlying cause”… how many were murder/suicide, suicide by cop, or emotionally unstable folk or those who had mental health issues that had been identified well before the mass shootings?  Answer is, all (possible exceptions were San Bernadino or the Florida nightclub, but even if ‘terrorist inspired’, doesn’t negate the emotional and/or MH issues).


      1. Ken A

        My guess is that we keep moving forward allowing students to protest things teachers agree with and punishing the students stupid enough to let teachers know that they have different views on any controversial topics (this will impact left leaning students in red schools and right leaning students in blue schools)…

      2. Howard P

        Or, you make clear/instruct what the rules are for “time, place, and manner”… different from,

        you either allow protests or ban them.

        Seems to me…

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