Mark Kelly talks to students at Tucson High, during a press conference about March for Our Lives: "The people we elect to office, they’re gonna care about you showing up here and marching in the streets of Tucson...but what they’re gonna care about as much is what all of you do on the day after this march, the week after this march, the month after."
The group of teens gathered in a science class room at Tucson High are not there to talk biology. They’re talking about how fear of being shot is hindering their studies.
“We want regulations on guns,” said Tucson High junior Vivian Reynoso, president of school’s Human Rights Club. “We want to not be afraid to come to school and worry that someone is going to come in with a gun and shoot us.”
Perhaps living in a time when school shootings are no longer shocking has matured these teens. Like many students who endured the Feb. 14 school shooting in Florida, they are having no problem articulating what they want.
Some want stricter gun regulations. They all want the government to take clear action that sees results. They will all be sharing their ideas of what that action looks like at the March 24 rally, March for Our Lives.
“We’re fighting for this, and this is what we want,” Reynoso said. “We’re gonna keep fighting until they give it to us.”
March for Our Lives—a nationwide rally for better gun regulation and school safety measures—was started by student survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting, after 17 people were killed by a former student with a legally-purchased AR-15.
The central march is in Washington D.C., and could be the biggest march, nationwide, since the Women’s March, with close to 600 cities signed up at marchforourlives.com.
Press filled the Tucson High classroom, on Friday afternoon, where about 30 teens from a number of local high schools, including Flowing Wells, Catalina Foothills, University High, Marana High, City High and Tucson High, candidly faced the media’s cameras and spoke of their experience, growing up dealing with gun violence in schools.
“Our safety in school should be the number one concern because no parent should ever have to let their kid go to school and not have their kid come back home,” said Marana High School student Eric Brown. “It shouldn’t be on our minds to be afraid to be in school. Our number one priority is our education—that’s why we’re in school.”
University High sophomore Sharmila Dey said after the Florida shooting, her teachers gave the class a talk about what to do in the event of a school shooting.
“Just the fact that we have to talk about that is ridiculous,” she said. “Even being worried about that is not something we should have to do as students trying to get an education at school…. And we should not have to be the ones who say, ‘this needs to stop.’ But I think the students’ voices are gonna be the most important in making the change.”
Mark Kelly, the husband or former-Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, came and spoke at the press conference, organized by the teens. His main piece of advice was to become politically active—and when they can—vote.
Giffords survived being shot in the head in Tucson’s own mass shooting, in 2011. Six people died. Kelly and Giffords will be marching on March 24 in D.C.
“Voting matters, and it matters a lot,” Kelly said. “The people we elect to office, they’re gonna care about you showing up here and marching in the streets of Tucson, or where ever you decide to do that. But what they’re gonna care about as much is what all of you do on the day after this march, the week after this march, the month after. And then it’s about really showing up and having your voices heard in an election.”
March for Our Lives
is at 11 a.m. on March 24, starting at Jacome Plaza, 101 N. Stone Ave., marching down Fourth Avenue to the University of Arizona, where there’ll be speaker until around 4 p.m.
There are also partner events, co-sponsored by YWCA Stand Together Arizona Training and Advocacy and March for our Lives, Tucson:
- Banner and Sign Making, March 11, 1 to 4 p.m. at the YWCA, 525 N. Bonita Ave.
- Peacekeeper Training with Veterans for Peace — workshop on non-violent techniques for peaceful rallies — March 11, 1 to 2 p.m. at the YWCA.