Garrett Schneider, left, and Clay Shubert are part of WilCo Students for Change in Williamson County and advocate common sense gun reform with respect for the 2nd Amendment. Photo submitted

By Clint Confehr

NASHVILLE, TN — A Georgia teenager organized thousands of people on social media to protest gun violence recently, including Middle Tennesseans who demonstrated on the Legislative Plaza.

And, before that national anti-gun violence die-in demonstration, protest organizer Nurah

An organizer of the March For Our Lives on March 24, Nurah Abdulhaqq continues her activism with the Die-In this week.
Courtesy photo.

Abdulhaqq, 14, Atlanta, said one cause of mass shootings is “white privilege … white boys get everything handed to them.”

A perception of disrespect triggers reactions, she and others agreed. However, guns are the chief issue.

Asked why mass shooters are usually white males, Abdulhaqq replied white privilege is a reason believed by many. “It’s not frequently expressed, but once that’s acknowledged, we can find solutions and move on … White males don’t know how to deal with mental health.”

Nevertheless, it’s Garrett Schneider, 17, an Independence High School student in Williamson County, who called Middle Tennessee media to publicize the 12-minute, mid-day demonstration at 301 6th Ave. North on the two-year anniversary of the murders at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla. The national demonstration is in Washington, D.C. Regionally, they’re in Atlanta, Seattle, Chicago, New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami and Nashville.

Abdulhaqq’s organizing efforts were with Amanda Fugleberg, 18, of Orlando who lives near Pulse, she said. Abdulhaqq also talks with Pulse survivor Brandon Wolf by text and through conference calls. And, Abdulhaqq is friends with a student from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.; David Hogg, “the one who hates the NRA.” He’s well-known because he’s outspoken against gun violence.

The 12-minute demonstration of people laying down for 720 seconds approximates the number of deaths at school shootings and other mass killing events since the Pulse shootings. 

“WilCo Students for Change in Williamson County is kind of our own protest group,” Schneider said. “There are about 14-15 of us.”

WilcoStudents invited Marshall County [Ky.] High School-area residents who survived their school shooting Jan. 23 to the Nashville demonstration.

“Common sense gun reform with respect for the 2nd Amendment” and “more complete background checks” are needed, Franklin High School student Clay Shubert said.

Shubert, 17, said, “Mental illness needs to be addressed, but we can do things with gun legislation in Tennessee to make it [mass murder] less prevalent.”

He “was contacted by a national organizer,” Abdulhaqq, through an Internet chat room, he said. Shubert feels safe in Franklin High School, but “there’s always the worry in the back of your mind … because it’s happened so many other places that are similar.”

Schneider agrees. It’s not just school safety. It’s the mood of the country, he said, noting shootings at a military recruiting office in Chattanooga and, in Antioch, at a Waffle House and a church.

Last week, Shubert said he planned to “talk to some people with Black Lives Matter about speaking” at Nashville’s die-in.

Schneider said, “I may be wrong, but I’d think that African Americans are disproportionately affected by gun violence, and we, as students, are being affected and nothing is being done.”

As for white privilege, Abdulhaqq said, “Blacks are trying to progress. We’ve been oppressed by the government for years,” she said of Jim Crow laws and racial profiling. “We don’t have time to be shooting up schools. If every shooter were black, none would have walked out of the building alive … This is a white male issue.”

Meanwhile, The Huffington Post reports U.S. Rep. Diane Black, who’s running for governor, says pornography “is a big part” of the cause of school shootings. The Washington Post reports U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was asked by a Senate subcommittee how school safety is affected by guns and gun violence. DeVos, who leads the Federal School Safety Commission, replied, “That is not part of the commission’s charge, per se.”

Elsewhere, Abdulhaqq “saw a sign that says, ‘Stop White Genocide.’ I don’t know what that is, but it put it in perspective for me.”

Clint Confehr

Clint Confehr — an American journalist since 1972 — first wrote for The Tennessee Tribune in 1999. His news writing and photography in South Central Tennessee and the Nashville Metropolitan Statistical...