Hundreds of students march on the Colorado Capitol to demand action on gun violence
Hundreds of students from Denver’s East High School walked out of class Friday morning and marched on the state Capitol to demand lawmakers take action against gun violence.
The demonstration follows the death of a fellow student, 16-year-old Luis Garcia, who was shot near the school in Febr uary and died earli er this week .
The walkout started around 8:00 a.m. Friday, and soon a large crowd moved down 16th Street towards the statehouse chanting “No more silence! End gun violence!” Many wore red in honor of Garcia and in support of gun control. When they reached the Capitol, students flooded the marble halls and crowded into the Senate gallery.
East High School junior Mateo Teller was one of Garcia’s teammates on the soccer team.
East High School’s chapter of Students Demand Action organized the demonstration. Students say they do not feel safe with the constant threat of gun violence, especially in the wake of Garcia’s shooting.
“We just really need something to happen,” said the group’s co-president Clara Taub, a sophomore. “We don't have a lot of power as students. But our voices are something that we do have, and people listen to us when thousands of us show up. It's just, right now, it's a scary time to be in high school, to be anywhere, to be in America, because you can get shot anywhere.”
Taub called on lawmakers to pass current gun safety bills, especially House Bill 1219, which would impose waiting periods on firearm sales, and Senate Bill 168, which would allow victims of gun violence to sue gun stores and manufacturers.
Lawmakers are also considering Senate Bill 169, which would raise the minimum age to purchase firearms to 21, and Senate Bill 170, which would expand Colorado’s red flag gun laws, also called Extreme Risk Protection Orders, or ERPO laws.
All four bills are sponsored by Democrats. Republicans oppose them.
A number of lawmakers vowed to take action on Friday morning. Sen. Tom Sullivan, whose son was killed in the 2012 mass shooting at an Aurora movie theater, spoke from the Senate floor directly to the students gathered in the gallery above.
“Look to your friends that are on the right and left side of you. Hold onto them. Look to them for support,” said Sullivan. “And you stay with us, OK? You stay with us so that we can get this figured out. So that we can make sure, when your kids get to sit up there and come to work everyday, you’ll be with us. Because we need each and every one of you here. Never forget that.”
Members of gun safety organization Moms Demand Action were also at the Capitol supporting the students. They were also there to participate in the group’s Advocacy Day and discuss gun control legislation with lawmakers.
Colorado saw 13 mass shootings last year, according to the Gun Violence Archive, including the attack on Club Q in Colorado Springs that killed five people. There have already been three mass shootings this year.
Last month, a series of false reports of school shootings prompted Boulder High School and several other Colorado schools to go into lockdown.
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