Local Students Hear from Parkland School Shooting Survivors at Town Hall

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SACRAMENTO -- Sacramento students attended a school safety town hall Friday,  three weeks after a gunman breached a high school in Parkland, Florida, taking 17 lives.

"The building we're in right now is the newest building of Kennedy built back in 2009. The rest of buildings, however, were built 50 years ago. My question is will we see a reinforcement and refurbishment of school buildings?" one student asked.

That was the concern one student brought to the microphone at the meeting between those who have to sit in possibly vulnerable classrooms all day and their congresswoman, Doris Matsui.

Ironically, she was supposed to be joined by fellow United States Rep. Mike Thompson, chair of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force. Instead, he had to tend to his own district after a gunman killed three hostages and then himself in Yountville.

As Thompson worked through this latest tragedy, students gathered at Kennedy High School Friday and heard via Skype from survivors of the tragedy that's reignited the gun debate in the country and shifted the fight for change.

"So maybe when you buy this gun you have to buy a safe to put it in. Maybe every year you have to reapply and do mental health background checks," said Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School junior John Barnett as he made suggestions for increased gun safety.

He and Adam Alhanti have become anti-gun advocates since watching fellow students die around them.

They told the crowd at Kennedy that no one would have to think about fortifying schools if the common denominator in mass shootings, the guns, were properly dealt with. They called out the Roseville Joint Unified High School District for taking $300,000 dollars in grants from the National Rifle Association, more than any other district in the country.

"Even schools are taking money from the NRA and I didn't even know why a school would need money from the NRA," Alhanti said.

Add that to the list of concerns in the Kennedy auditorium. Pamela Lyons was worried about lockdown protocols.

"I don't feel safe just being stuck in a classroom. I would feel better if we had somewhere to go than staying where we are, 'cause you're kind of like a sitting target. We should change it up," said the Kennedy High School senior.

Fellow senior Dani Davis had a lot of worries but felt inspired by how she's seen her peers in Parkland change the conversation about guns.

"I feel ready to take action," she said.


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