This Saturday, in cities from Boston to Los Angeles, youth-led demonstrations will call for urgent gun reform, saying there should never again be another mass tragedy like the one the nation saw last month in Parkland, Florida.
One of the largest marches is expected to be in Washington, D.C., and Vermonters are planning to travel there to be a part of it.
“There needs to be a change in laws,” said Phoebe Hickin, a first-year student at Vermont’s Randolph Union High School, who is about to make the long trip to Washington, D.C.
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Hickin is one of 12 Randolph students traveling to D.C. with four adults to take part in what’s been named the March for Our Lives, at which organizers and participants will call for more stringent gun controls to cut mass shootings—especially in schools.
“It’s such a horrible thing for a child to go through—I don’t think it should happen to anyone else,” Hickin said of violence at school.
Marissa Parisi of Shelburne, Vermont is also traveling to D.C. for Saturday’s march.
Parisi said she and her husband were inspired by how young survivors of the recent Parkland, Florida school massacre have demanded safer communities.
“These kids have lived their whole childhood in fear that a school shooting can happen,” Parisi told necn. “And as adults and voters, we wanted to go, stand by them, listen to them, and help them make the change that they’re seeking.”
The nationwide debate on guns also has featured plenty of passion from supporters of gun rights.
“I definitely feel that my individual rights are under assault, and so do the people I represent,” said Bill Moore, a volunteer firearms policy analyst with the Vermont Traditions Coalition.
High school senior Hunter Brassard is part of Randolph’s delegation to the D.C. march, but he said he plans to mostly observe, focusing on a documentary project.
“I’m a hunter, I am a gun owner—I like my guns and don’t want them taken away,” Brassard said.
Still, he said he expects the demonstration in D.C. to be powerful and historic, adding that he hopes more towns nationwide can be like Randolph, and have civil conversations on guns that involve diverse views.
For Vermonters not traveling to the nation’s capital, a March for Our Lives rally is taking place Saturday at noon outside the Vermont Statehouse in Montpelier.
The Montpelier rally is expected to draw thousands of participants and run until 2 p.m., organizers said. It will embrace a spirit of solidarity with Parkland youth, the event director said.