Minnesota schools join national walkout to protest gun violence

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Harding High School students joined the national school walkout Wednesday to protest gun violence. 

Students and teachers across the country plan to walk out of class Wednesday in support of tougher gun laws. 

Wednesday marks one month since the deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida. 

Thousands of students at schools across the Twin Cities metro are participated in Wednesday’s demonstration. Beginning at 10 a.m., students got up and left class for 17 minutes to honor the 17 victims killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Following the massacre, students have become vocal critics of national gun laws that allowed 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz to purchase the assault rifle used in the attack. In the month since the shooting, students have already had an effect on gun control policy. Florida changed its law raising the minimum age to buy rifles from 18 to 21 and expanded a three-day waiting period to include long guns. 

The national school walkout was spearheaded by Women's March Youth Empower, the youth branch of the Women's March group. 

“We’re fed up with what’s happening with gun violence in this country,” St. Louis Park High School senior Elliot Schochet said. “Unlike other schools, I wanted to take it a step further and not just walk out, but take action." 

The marches continued after school finished. Close to 100 students packed into Republican Congressman Erik Paulsen's Eden Prairie office to discuss gun control.

Sam Simonett, a senior at Minnetonka High School, led the call for Paulsen to meet with the students.

"We are all students--we go to school every single day, Erik Paulsen does not--we know the violence, fear and intimidation that happens at every single school in America," said Simonett.

Later the students gathered at Eden Prairie City Hall to meet with one of Paulsen's Democrat challengers, Dean Phillips, to have a roundtable discussion on school safety.

Women's March Youth Empower reports there are more than 3,136 walkouts planned nationwide. You can see which Minnesota schools are planning to walk out at womensmarch.com