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Washtenaw County Students Continue Gun Control Discussion By Hosting A Town Hall

Ann Arbor Public Schools students hosted a town hall Thursday evening to continue the discussion on the need for better gun control laws in the country.  Over 50 people attended the peaceful town hall.  89.1 WEMU's Jorge Avellan was there and has the story.

"I'm here because I don't want my 15 and 13 year old sisters to die young."

Clara Nuñez-Regueiro was part of a student panel at Pioneer High School.  She said Ann Arbor is not immune to tragedies like the school shooting that killed 17 people in Florida.

"This happened in Parkland but Parkland was very parallel to Ann Arbor, people would consider it a safe bubble of space.  And in Washtenaw County, there have been several threats like in Lincoln, Milan, Chelsea and Y High.  It's really not an isolated incident, it affects us at home as much as it does in Parkland," said Nuñez-Regueiro. 

The seven member panel consisted of all Ann Arbor students expect for one Lincoln High School student.  They made it clear that a student walkout that was held earlier this week was just the beginning of a movement to keep schools safe.  Emma Roth attends Pioneer High School.

"We have to keep the momentum going because if we loose momentum, nothing is going to change.  We have to keep this a hot button issue.  We have to keep this in people's minds or they will never help us change things," said Roth.

As a result of the school shooting in Florida, the students who took part in the town hall, got together and formed the Washtenaw Youth Initiative.  They plan to focus on comprehensive gun control, mental health awareness and addressing human rights issues.  

Ann Arbor parent, Sonya Lewis, attended the town hall and hopes the community joins the students in their movement by attending their events.

"I know there are opposing viewpoints but I think that everybody agrees that we want our children to be safe.  I can't see how there is any disagreement on that point.  And if we can focus on that common goal, I think we can get things done.  We have to be in a room together, we have to have these conversations," said Lewis.

Members of the Washtenaw Youth Initiative hope to create a student committee that will work with school districts like Ann Arbor Public Schools on school safety.  Superintendent Jeanice Swift attended the town hall.

"We do respect our students and their voices and their lived experiences, and what they say does matter," said Swift. 

Students plan to host another walkout on April 20th.  Details have not been released.

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— Jorge Avellan is a reporter for 89.1 WEMU News. Contact him at 734.487.3363 or email him javellan@emich.edu

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