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Mass. gun group urges members to take video of student walkouts

Nicole Rivera, (center), a 14-year-old freshman at Arlington High School, rallied with other students at the State House on Wednesday. Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

On the day when thousands of students, including hundreds in Boston, marched through streets calling for stricter gun laws, a Massachusetts gun owners group urged its members to take videos of protests at their children’s schools.

The Gun Owners’ Action League asked members to document “what’s being said, what the signs say, and what teachers/faculty/guests are saying.”

“If you see anything indicating that these walkouts are pushing an anti civil rights agenda, please email us information,” the group wrote in an e-mail to members which was also posted on its Twitter page.

Jim Wallace, GOAL’s executive director, said in a phone interview Wednesday evening that the Northborough-based group asked members to document protests so that it could determine whether school resources are being used “to push a political agenda.” GOAL does not intend to intimidate students or post videos of them on social media he said.

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“Are these student activities really grassroots, from the students, or are they being pushed by somebody else with an agenda?” Wallace asked.

The group had received reports from parents that their school-aged children were being pressured into participating in walkouts and other protests, he said.

“One of the parents said his daughter was so bullied because she didn’t want to take part that she was physically shaking,” Wallace said. The girl ended up seeing a school nurse because she didn’t feel safe around her peers, he said.

GOAL’s email was condemned by some on social media Wednesday, including State Senator Jamie Eldridge, a Democrat who represents several communities in Middlesex and Worcester counties.

He posted a screenshot of GOAL’s e-mail on Twitter, adding that he was “disgusted” by the group asking members to videotape protesting students.

The nationwide walkouts and other protests, which included students as young as elementary school, occurred a month after the shooting that left 17 dead at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

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Some students in the Boston area revised their plans after the blizzard that hit the region Tuesday left many schools closed Wednesday. In Boston, hundreds of students marched from the Cathedral Church of St. Paul, across Boston Common, and into the State House, carrying signs that said “What do we want? Gun control now!” and “Not in our schools! Not in our streets!”


Jacob Carozza can be reached at jacob.carozza@globe.com.