BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)- It was hard to miss more than 300 high school students marching down Porter Avenue Wednesday.
Despite snow and wind, all but a handful of students from Leonardo daVinci High in Buffalo participated in National School Walkout.
“The winter weather won’t stop us at all. It shows how dedicated we are to this movement,” said Safi Alem, a junior.
“We’re 16, 17-years-old, we can’t vote yet. So the most that we can do is we can peacefully and publicly protest,” said another junior, Madeline Rivera.
The march is in response to the fatal high school shooting in Parkland, Florida in February; 17 were killed.
One month after that rampage, students from around the country are asking lawmakers to commit to stricter gun control; a highly debated issue in Washington.
“I don’t want people to have to worry about if they’re going to be shot in school,” said freshman Carolyn Dokey.
daVinci’s principal Greg Lodinsky walked alongside his students.
“I received a petition with over 200 names last week. Students expressed an interest in taking part of this national outrage against the school violence that occurred in Florida. I was first of all not surprised, but very proud of my students.”
The march hit home for sophomore Naki Nanor.
“As a little kid I’ve lived in a neighborhood where there’s shootings every night. I’ve hid under my bed because I was scared that I was going to be shot.”
Nanor doesn’t support an all-out gun ban.
“I don’t believe that guns should be taken away, it’s our Second Amendment, but I do believe that a mentally ill person should not be able to easily get a gun.”
Many of those walking Wednesday expressed the desire to see an assault weapons ban, specifically a ban on the AR-15, which as used in the Parkland shooting.
“We need to eliminate the possibility of it happening instead of preparing for it to happen. That is the problem that we are facing today,” said student Farhiya Diriye.
The National School Walkout organizers reported they want to see an assault weapons ban, universal background checks, and laws in place for courts to disarm people who pose a threat of violence.
News 4 asked the lawmakers in our area their stance on gun control:
Congressman Brian Higgins (D) has co-sponsored the following bills:
- HR 5087, Assault Weapons Ban of 2018
- HR 4240, Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Protection Act (closes the gun show loophole, expanding background checks to all commercial gun sales)
- HR 2598, Gun Violence Restraining Order Act of 2017 (would provide grants to support a Gun Violence Prevention Order system that would set up procedures where families or law enforcement can ask the courts to disarm high-risk threats)
In a statement the Congressman said:
“America has seen great change throughout its history. The fights for civil rights and environmental justice, the struggles for equality and dignity for all Americans — they didn’t start in Washington, D.C.. They came from ordinary Americans who through their commitment decided to do something extraordinary — to stand up, to speak out and demand better from their government. Today thousands of students across Western New York turned pain into purpose. Their leadership is inspirational and their collective voices resounding. It is with pride we witnessed the thoughtful, individualized tributes and rallies which provide new hope that together we can work to make our schools and communities more secure.”
Congressman Tom Reed (R) supports HR4909, STOP School Violence Act.
In a statement, the Congressman said he will always support Second Amendment Rights:
“This tragedy is not an issue of gun control, it is an issue of ignoring and not detaining those who exhibit violent and dangerous behavior. I will always defend our second amendment rights. There needs to be a comprehensive solution that focuses on more than just the object. We must ensure mentally ill people are getting the treatment they need, that there are resources for early intervention, and there is the ability to confine these individuals if needed. We also need to enhance school safety and equip School Resource Officers with the tools they need to protect our kids.”
U.S. Senator Kristen Gillibrand (D- New York) supports the following:
- A ban semi-automatic assault rifles and high capacity magazines.
- Universal background checks
She addressed her colleagues in the Senate March 1 on gun control. You can view her speech here
U.S. Senator Senator Chuck Schumer (D- New York) supports the following:
- Universal background checks
- Stricter laws to keep the mentally ill from accessing weapons
- In a speech March 14, the Senator said he supported “a debate on an assault weapons ban.”
He addressed his colleagues in the Senate March 14 on gun control. You can view his speech here
Congressman Chris Collins (R-Clarence) released the following statement. He too supports the STOP School Violence Act:
“Today the House passed the Student, Teachers, and Officers Preventing (STOP) School Violence Act, which creates a grant program to train students, teachers, school officials, and law enforcement on how to identify and intervene before there’s violence in our schools. It also creates an anonymous reporting system and implements threat assessment protocols in the event of an emergency. This is one of the many ways we’re reaffirming our commitment to keeping America’s schools safe and protecting the rights of law abiding Americans. There is no easy answer to this crisis, and I am supportive of President Trump’s commitment to ban bump stocks, improve our nation’s background check system to prevent dangerous weapons from getting into the wrong hands, and focus on mental health.”