Tens of thousands of students and others attended nationwide marches this weekend in support of school safety and reasonable gun reform. March for Our Lives was organized by a network of students in response to last month’s deadly shooting at a high school in Parkland, Fla. In downtown Flagstaff, hundreds gathered to honor the victims and call for tighter gun laws. KNAU’s Gillian Ferris reports.
The demonstration was peaceful and brief. Marchers held signs in support of gun reform and to remember victims of gun violence. After a few opening statements, the group did a lap around downtown Flagstaff before dispersing. Seventeen-year-old Isabella Garcia was one of the speakers at the event, inspired to action after the Florida shooting.
“I think the outrage that poured out behind that, us students got pushed over the edge, you know. Seventeen school shootings in 2018 alone. That’s too many. That’s too many lives,” says Garcia.
Claire Sotello was among the demonstrators. A mother of two, she says her children are increasingly anxious about going to school because they fear theirs might be next.
“To have a 13-year-old not be able to go to sleep at night is frustrating. To have a 9-year-old wondering what the day at school holds is frustrating. There’s not a whole lot I can tell them. It’s nerve racking. I don’t know what to expect any more than they do. That’s the worst part,” says Sotello.
With school walkouts and worldwide marches behind them, student activists with the Never Again movement say their focus is now on elections. A faction of seniors and juniors will be old enough to vote in the November mid-terms. They’ve promised to vote out lawmakers who reject bans on assault rifles, bump stocks and universal background checks for all gun sales.