OLYMPIA, Wash. – While lawmakers in Washington’s capitol scrambled to put finishing touches on a myriad of gun legislation, students stormed the legislative building in Olympia demanding their voices be heard.
The youths rallying on Tuesday didn’t just talk about gun legislation, they also described how they feel school is different today and shared what it was like to drill and practice for a mass shooting.
“We’re here for Marysville-Pilchuck, we’re here for Mukilteo,” said high school senior Jonna Munson, “And we’re here for Sandy Hook and the 300 school shootings that have happened since then.”
“We really need to speak up,” said high school senior Aurora Strauss-Reeves. “Students need to speak up and we need to do something because Congress won’t do something by itself, obviously, as we’ve seen in the past.”
Holding signs and wearing orange in solidarity, the students, parents and educators took their message straight to lawmakers. They’re demanding Olympia hear what it’s like for the next generation to live in fear at school.
“We, the students right now, have a new and really sobering reason to want to graduate in 2018 and just as soon as possible,” said Munson. “Because we attend school in the era of mass shootings.”
“When I had to start doing active-shooter drills, and I actually had to mentally prepare for it, it made it seem real,” said Strauss-Reeves.
“A peer of mine stood next to the door with a pencil, a sharpened pencil, to protect against a school shooting,” said high school senior Oliver Mortel, describing a classmate during a lockdown drill. “As if a wooden stick can defend against any type of gun.”
“Nowadays, kids are getting a hold of guns to kill one another and their classmates,” said seventh-grade student Asiya Warfa.
Warfa came to Olympia from Seattle and she says she lost a cousin to gang and gun violence.
“We need to take action,” she said, “We are young and we see stuff as we can take power.”
Warfa and the rest of the kids were hoping Washington’s state lawmakers heard their voices and took their concerns to heart.
“We’re here because it’s about time,” said Munson.
Many of the students at the rally then planned to walk into lawmakers' chambers to share their message with other legislators who may have missed the demonstration.