Students Protest for Stricter Gun Laws

by Haley Wong, staff

Ella Anderton holds her sign in support of changing gun laws. (by Isabel Brown)

One month after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, students gathered outside Shorewood High School to not only stand in silence in honor of the seventeen victims but to also protest the gun violence occurring across America. In this Q & A we are able to hear from the different point of views from six different individuals and how they feel about the recent events.

Q: Was that your first walkout?

Jeremiah John-Tobler, freshman: ​Yes
Natalia Mancuso, sophomore: ​Yes
Robbie Elerick, sophomore: ​Yes
Isabelle Jones, junior: ​No, I went to both of the walkouts last year
Luke Evans, senior: ​Yes, I’ve never done a walkout before. I’ve organized events within our community to raise awareness about human rights issues. I am the president of Amnesty International and a few months ago, we sponsored at this event where this speaker got shot in the head by a white supremacist shortly after 9/11 who talked about forgiveness and how he tried to not get his attacker the death penalty. I haven’t done a civil action like this before.Rowan Hurt, senior: ​No, I did all three last year: the one that went to the field, city-hall and to the overpass with Ingraham and Shorecrest.

Q: What was the main reason you chose to walk out?
Jeremiah: ​We need gun control.Natalia: ​I chose to walk out because I think that it’s a movement that needs to be heard, and people have to stop ignoring it.
Robbie: ​Mainly, I wanted to be there for support but also because its a massive problem. It’s not just guns, it’s also mental health because if you take guns out of the entire question, with mental health as it is. They’re gonna get more creative and find ways to get weapons or a bomb off the black market. Even though its a bad thing to have a gun, it’s even worse to have a whole school blown up. We need to look into better security for black market goods or better work for mental health done.
Isabelle: ​I helped planned it and I’ve been thinkin about doing something like this for quite some time.​ ​Also, as an older student, I felt responsible. I think it’s a way for our voices to be heard.Luke: ​Gun control is one of the biggest things we need to do to reduce gun violence and especially mass shootings. It will demoralize shooters and also reduce casualties.
Rowan: ​I don’t want to die. I know there are a lot of problems and Washington isn’t exempt from everything that’s going on. I feel it’s important that everyone is aware of what’s happening here.

Q: Did you plan to speak or was it in the spur of the moment?
Jeremiah: ​No, I just went up.
Natalia: ​Spur of the moment, I kind of blacked out for a minute and when i stepped down I realized what I just talked about. Robbie: ​It was entirely impromptu because if I were to write a speech my belief is that if you’re gonna actually say something, it should just come out as it is because you won’t have the same emotion if you just read off a piece of paper.

Isabelle: ​I planned to speak, but not word for word. My words just came to me.

Luke: ​A little bit of both, we were able to set things up and I planned to speak. I hadn’t dont anything like this before.
Rowan: ​I had one speech that I knew ahead of time, so I did plan to speak. And then when we walked to Crowell Park and then to Shoreline Center, I wrote another one just to try and get awareness out.

Q: What made you want to stand up and speak?
Jeremiah: ​I felt like I needed to send the message of why we were there.
Natalia: ​I wanted to talked about mental health since people weren’t really talking about that.Robbie: ​I don’t know, I just though it was a good idea.
Isabelle: ​I wanted my voice to be heard.
Rowan: ​I know that I’m a good speaker, I’ve been told that I am. I’m still humble but I’ve had a lot of people come up to me in the past and say that the things I have said have changed their mind and I want people to be inspired. I want to inspire people because if I can do that at all, then I’m happy.
Luke: ​I wanted to quickly share my thoughts and advertise my petition that was going to the school board. The petition was calling the school board to approve of a resolution going to lawmakers to call for more more gun control legislation.

Q: What advice do you have for other people who want their voice to be heard?

Jeremiah: ​You need to get out of your comfort zone and even though it can be scary, you need to do it.
Natalia: ​Post something on instagram, go on social media and spread the message.
Robbie: ​Don’t be shy about it. You’re voice does deserve to be heard and a lot of people would care about your opinion.
Isabelle: ​If you wanna do something or change something and make your voice heard you need to step up. You can contact the school board, superintendent or our senators. Social media is also a really good way to get the word out.
Luke: ​You really have to take action and go outside your bubble. I know its hard and it feels anxious, but once you do it, you’ll feel really good about it.
Rowan: ​There are a lot of actions you can take. You can go to the school board meetings and tell the school board how you feel. You can do interviews and letters to the editor, you can call your representatives and senators. Anyone can do anything on social media, I mean I did the social media page because I knew that I could do that. I knew that I could put in the time to do the research because anyone can do it.

Q: What is the main message you want others to hear?

Jeremiah: ​We have hope for the future and we can still change as a society in this generation.Natalia: ​We need to help people out that are depressed and people with mental health issues before they hurt themselves or others.
Robbie: ​We need to fix the system but we shouldn’t destroy everything we’ve already made for the Constitution. We need to make sure that if you’re gonna have a gun that it is safely kept in your home. We need to have random searches so we know where all the guns are and that they’re locked up.

Isabelle: ​Gun reform. We want to ban assault and semi-automatic rifles because those are weapons that were built to kill and built for war. They have no reason to be in the hands of civilians because people are dying.
Luke: ​Don’t be afraid to let your voice be heard and keep an open mind about what others have to say.

Rowan: ​It’s not over yet. I think that it was something that Rowan Murray actually said at Cromwell Park that this is not the last day, we have a lot of work to do, but we can’t give up. We have to stay inspired and we have to inspire other people because the only way we are going to get anything done is to keep up the numbers and make sure that this is still visible in January when the next legislative session opens up.

Q: Do you think these protests will create a change?
Jeremiah: ​Yes because we will be voting in the near future.
Natalia: ​Yes because people pay attention to teens walking around in packs.
Robbie: ​Probably, seen as they’ve made national news. I feel like if you’re able to make national news, you’re already noticed.
Isabelle: ​Yes because we have these national movements and if enough people stand up and try to make a difference in their communities, then we can really create a change.
Luke: ​Yes because mass attendance is the best way to gain awareness. Because the main job of law makers is to get votes and we will be voting in the near future.
Rowan: ​Yes, but not the protests themselves. We passed around voting registration papers and we got a few people registered. It is really inspiring when a bunch of people meet up because the sense of solidarity makes people feel like they’re not alone which makes them more likely to take action and to do the things that they want to do. We also got a lot of people to sign the petition and I know that all of these things is important, especially voter registration.