More than 100 students at John Burroughs High School spent their lunch hour on Friday calling for lawmakers to put an end to mass shootings in America by enacting comprehensive gun control legislation.
Carrying signs with messages that read “#NEVERAGAIN,” “I Will Vote” and “Enough is Enough” students gathered on Memorial Field for a gun control rally organized by Burroughs’ Students Against Gun Violence Club, which started in the wake of the February 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting in Parkland, Fla.
Zachary Hagen-Smith, the club’s president, said his generation has grown up during a period of devastating school shootings — from the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Conn. to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas tragedy.
“We are the ones who have known nothing else, and so it’s up to us for this problem to be solved,” he said.
Hagen-Smith added that people across the United States, not only students, will never be free from the threat of gun violence until gun reform happens on a national level where there are “universal background checks in our stores and weapons of war off our streets.”
Joining the students’ calls for gun control were Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) and state Assemblywoman Laura Friedman (D-Glendale) who both addressed the crowd.
Schiff told the students his generation “has so miserably failed” at gun control that it was up to them to push for change. Although he said most Americans support universal background checks and other types of gun reforms, Schiff said many politicians are beholden to firearm manufacturers and the money they provide thereby stymieing any change.
“We have to overcome their opposition, which means we need to hold our elected officials accountable,” he said. “Are they answering to the leadership of the [National Rifle Assn.] or are they answering to their constituents?”
Schiff said it has been the work of people like the students at Burroughs that have gradually changed the tide in the gun control debate and have allowed for the U.S. House of Representatives to pass a bill this past February for universal background checks on all firearms sales in the country.
Meanwhile Friedman said tears and prayers after a shooting aren’t enough to curb gun violence and that action needs to be taken to regulate firearms.
“What we need are people willing to stand up against the obscenity of gun violence, to recognize that we are not safer when we have more guns in our community,” she said.
Friedman echoed Schiff’s sentiments, saying that the younger generation has the power to make change and is a “force that strikes fear into the hearts of complacent … and easily malleable and easily frightened politicians in Washington.”