Vermont Business Magazine Over 80 middle and high school students joined forces today in a grassroots effort to bring student voices in support of common sense gun legislation. The students advocated for passage of three bills currently before the legislature to improve safety for students and all Vermonters. Many noted the importance of passing universal background checks as a first step to improving safety.
Eight students testified before the Senate Judiciary committee.
Hazel Fay, 8th grade St. Johnsbury School
“If students don’t feel safe attending class, then it's clear the system isn’t working.”
Alexandra Smart, 9th Grade Montpelier High School
“If people were coming into federal or state buildings and attempting to kill adults every 60 hours, you would have put your feet down and done something. So why is it different when the children of your community have this ever-present threat hanging over them? Isn’t a student's safety more important than a semi-automatic?”
Natalie Dohela, 9th grade Stowe High School
“Apparently, sending our hopes and prayers to schools and families who have experienced these horrible tragedies is somehow supposed to fix the gun violence problems. We can hope and pray all we want, but now, it’s time that we take action.”
Kiran Wagar, 12th grade South Burlington High School
“We, students, should never have to fear for our safety in a place we are meant to learn, but time and time again we are faced with the terrifying reality. The most terrifying part of school isn’t AP Chemistry or finals, but rather if we’re really safe.”
Eli Pine 12th grade Burlington High School
“I ask, will our representatives here in Vermont listen to the people whom they represent? I ask, when will we value our children more than our guns? How many more thoughts and prayers do we have to listen to until something is done to prevent these sordid acts of violence? Please stand up and support these three bills in order take a giant step forward towards making our society a safer place. Your constituents are counting on you.”
The students also held a press conference to further address the need for common sense gun laws.
Gabe Groveman, 8th Twinfield Middle and High School
“We need to talk about common sense gun laws because every month my school makes us practice locking our doors, shutting off the lights, and hiding silent in the corner, because all of the youth up here has had to think about what to do if someone opens fire in our school, or on the street, or at any live event. We need to talk about common sense gun laws because no one ever thinks it will happen to them until it does, I for one am tired of hiding silent in the corner, I may be only 14 but so were 7 out of the 17 people who were shot and killed in Parkland, Florida, just last week.”
Taegan Yardley, 9th grade Stowe High School
“I do not want to live in a world where this is the case, and where it is easier to acquire one of these murderous weapons than it is to obtain a driver’s license…We all have the power to do something and the worst thing that we can do is nothing!
Trang Do, Senior, South Burlington High School
“The riches of countries around the world lie in its youth, not the fiscal degree or the bounty of weaponry it commands. There is a choice to be made here, and we hope you choose common sense. We hope you choose the future.”
Tara Blueter 9th grade Lamoille Union High School
“It has become instinct that if you hear a loud noise in a public area to duck down. My sister and I were at a mall during mid day, we’re walking casually when suddenly we heard a loud pop, my sister (out of instinct) immediately pushed my head to the ground and told me to get down.”
Hannah Pandya 12th grade St. Johnsbury Academy
The proper time to tackle the public health and safety menace of gun violence should have been on April 20th, 1999, after thirteen innocent people were gunned down at Columbine… Every item that could pose a danger to me and my peers is heavily regulated, from alcohol, to cigarettes, to ammonium nitrate fertilizer, to prescription medications, to cars, to over-the-counter painkillers, to scratch-off lottery tickets. And yet, we are continually told that the answer to semi-automatic weapons that can shoot up to 400 rounds per minute is not common-sense regulation.. Don’t let Vermont become the next scene of slaughter; don’t let Burlington, Brattleboro, Windham, Saint Johnsbury, become the next battleground. Instead, let Vermont become a leader in progress, as we have many times before.”
The students presented the Governor and legislative leadership with nearly 1,000 signatures collected in less than 72 hours in support of common sense gun legislation. They also contacted their local representatives and attended the Governor’s weekly press conference.
Nearly thirty students provided written testimony to the Senate Judiciary committee. Many of these testimonies are attached to this press release.
Alexandra Brown 12th grade Burlington High School
After the 18 school shootings that we've seen this year I am left wondering why people can still buy military assault rifles and why our politicians idly stand by as kids are shot in schools…I want to be able to go to school without fearing for my life, and be able to walk down the hallways not worrying that I'll become another statistic.
Katie Philips, 12th Grade U32
So let’s try something new. Make background checks more thorough. Stop sales of all semi-automatic and automatic weapons. Require permits to carry all firearms…these laws will save lives. To me, that makes them worth the small inconvenience to gun owners.
My final request of you is that you continue listening to the youth of this state. We go to school and feel the ripple of fear that spreads after each shooting. We share the relief that once again, it was not us. We can not escape from the worry. This affects every student, and we need to know that someone is listening.”
Chloe Alexander, South Burlington High School
“My right to education should not be infringed upon by the lack of safety that is created by easily accessible guns.”
Anonymous, South Burlington High School
“As a student who no longer feels safe in school, I urge you to take action…Statistics show that the majority of Americans support legislation limiting the purchase of weapons. Fulfill your job as a voice of the people, and protect us.”
Harrison Bushnell, 12th Grade, U32
“Let us step up today and do what other states and our country itself is too cowardly to do: put in place legislation so that no parent has to lose another child and no grandparent has to see their grandchildren only in school photos.
There is fear in this country that I have never seen before and there is fear in this state. Fear is the breeding ground for instability and division. Let us be a leader for the rest of the country to follow. Vermont paved the way for civil unions. Let us pave the way for thoughtful, effective gun control. The world we live in today is so drastically different from that in which our forefathers wrote the Second Amendment. Vermont’s healthy hunting tradition can remain intact while keeping our citizens safer. Let us realize that now is the time to come together and show this nation how strong Vermont is.”
Halle Newman, Burlington High School, Grade 11
“Why do I think that gun regulations and background checks are important? Because I don’t want to become another statistic, another candle at a vigil for those lost in a school shooting. I don’t want to flinch at every sound I hear during the day, imagining that the footfalls outside my classroom door could be bringing an automatic weapon through the halls. I don’t want to fear for my life when I walk into school everyday.
“Regulating who can have a gun will save lives. Background checks will help put a wall between murderous thoughts and the act of mass murder by making sure firearms don’t get put into the hands of someone who is mentally ill or who has a criminal record.
Here’s my question for you: what is enough? What will it take for the government to step in and protect the lives of students and teachers who are put into jeopardy every day? Columbine wasn’t enough for you to step in. The kindergarten children slaughtered at Sandy Hook Elementary School wasn’t enough either. Is this shooting enough? Are the grieving parents of the 17 lost in last Wednesday’s shooting enough? What is enough?
“How many more have to die before action is taken? Enough is enough.”
Source: Leonine 2.22.2018. Courtesy photos.