SEATTLE —Nationwide, high schoolers have been credited for leading the March for Our Lives movement. They are demanding safer schools and stronger gun laws. A group of students from the Seattle area led 50,000 people through the streets of Seattle in March for the event.
“This is a crisis in our country. It’s dangerous to our students and to our young people and it’s hurting our country,” said senior Kyler Parris, one of the organizers for the Seattle March for Our Lives.
Parris and the other organizers say students should not be afraid of getting shot at school.
“We had become numb to school shootings, but everyone can imagine their kid or their sibling being involved in that situation,” said Parris.
“I was born six months after Columbine (High School shooting), I’ve grown up in this generation where mass shootings are normal. The adults have had 18 years since then to do something about it so we wouldn’t have to. And it hasn’t been done,” said senior Katalia Alexander, another organizer for the Seattle March for Our Lives.
The local student organizers became involved in gun reform, after the mass school shooting in Parkland, Florida on Feb 14. A former student walked into Marjory Douglas High School and killed 14 students and three staff members. Many of the headlines in the days that followed that shooting were less about the violence and more about the surviving students in Parkland and what they started as a result.
“For me, it was Emma Gonzalez speaking at that rally just a few days after the shooting that really inspired me to take action, but it was also the thought and realization that I was numb to the parkland shooting and that my sister who is in sixth grade would grow up in this world where it’s so common,” said senior Rhiannon Rasaretnam, another student organizer of Seattle March for Our Lives.
When students from Florida called for nationwide protests, the local student organizers responded and rallied their classmates.
“We realize we don’t have to wait for adults to take action and to organize something, we can be the leader of this movement,” said Rasaretnam.
As of May, they were already seeing change being made.
“We’re starting to see change. Like the Alliance for Gun Responsibility is introducing an initiative to raise the age to purchase firearms from 18 to 21 and that was directly sparked by the movement March for Our Lives and the walkouts that were led by youth,” said Alexander.
Now the students hope March for Our Lives will become Vote for Our Lives.
“It’s this whole movement about registering youth to vote, making sure that they’re educated about who is going to be on the ballot as well as ensuring that they show up in November to turn on their ballots,” said Rasaretnam.