High schoolers, lawmakers, and concerned citizens held a rally at the state Capitol Thursday for changes to the state’s gun laws.
The rally comes the week after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. 17 students and staff members were killed.
Participants called for a ban on assault rifles, stricter background checks before buying a gun, and more money for mental health services. But most of all, the high school students at the rally want to feel safe in their schools.
Lily Ferris goes to Holt High School. She was at the rally with her friend Kennedi Carpenter. She said school shootings are happening too often.
“We’re not like, trying to ban guns from America forever, and they’re getting very protective over it,” she said. “But we’re getting like protective over our lives.”
Students at Kalamazoo Central High School have been fighting for gun control laws since the shooting.
“We’ve been working day after day since the shooting,” said senior Talia Edmonds. “And we are trying so hard to actually make a change, to actually let people hear our voices because we have been silenced time and time again, after shooting, after shooting, after shooting. And so now we’re here trying to make a change. We’re standing by the kids in Parkland.”
Kalamazoo students created an online petition for what they call a “comprehensive and responsible gun control policy.” It has received more than 100,000 signatures.
Several lawmakers and Democratic candidates for governor and other offices spoke at the rally. Representative Robert Wittenberg (D-Oak Park), co-founder of the Gun Violence Prevention caucus, said in the past he’s run gun control bills by Republican lawmakers – they said they had to check with the National Rifle Association.
“They’re putting the gun manufacturers profits over the value of the lives of our children, which is wrong,” he said.
The Republican Senate Majority Leader says he’s concerned about student safety and what can be done by the Legislature to support schools.
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