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Students, parents, politicians look for answers to problem of school shootings

SEATTLE -- Students, parents, politicians and activists came together Monday afternoon to discuss gun responsibility, a topic re-energized after the latest school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas.

“I was infuriated by lack of inaction all over the government,” said Kyler Parris, a high school student from Bothell High School.

Parris is one of the high schoolers at the event who got involved in activism following the Parkland school shooting in Florida that left 17 dead in February.

“This is an issue that resonates with people my age,” said Parris.

“For a long time our voices have been discounted by adults,” said Rhiannon Rasaretnam, a high school student.

The adults in this room are in full support of these students.

“We have a history in this nation of the youth pushing issues, and for this generation, it’s gun violence prevention,” said Renne Hopkins, the CEO of Alliance for Gun Responsibility.

One of the politicians here Monday was Democratic state Sen. David Frockt, who represents the 46th Legislative District, comprising north Seattle, Lake Forest Park, and Kenmore.

“My children are of high school age and they’re worried,” said Frockt.

He says he’s disappointed our state Legislature failed to pass comprehensive gun reform after the Parkland shooting.

The partisan divide is evident as members from both parties support a special session on school safety, but don’t necessarily agree on how to make schools safer.

“What I propose is to work on things we can agree on and I’ve been an advocate of enormous investments in community mental health, which I believe is the root cause,” said Republican state Sen. John Braun who represents the 20th district, comprising a southern section of Thurston County, most of Lewis and Cowlitz counties, and the northern tip of Clark County

“That’s a legitimate issue but in my opinion, you can’t divorce that from the issue of guns,” said Frockt.

Frockt is pushing for Initiative 1639, which received a  $1 million donation from Paul Allen on Monday.

The initiative’s backers say it will “address many of the root causes of recent tragedies,” by:

  • Raising the minimum age to buy semi-automatic rifles to 21.
  • Create an enhanced background check system, similar to that for handguns.
  • Require the completion of a firearm-safety course.
  • Create new standards for safely storing guns.

Safety is a top priority for these students who have a few weeks left in this school year and say marching for their lives was just the beginning, the next step is to push for votes to support their effort.

“Our campaign we’re working on right now is vote for our lives,” said Rasaretnam.