Abbie Howell ’18 led a strategy meeting discussing gun violence with Jacqueline Thompson, Senior Counsel to Congressmember Karen Bass, at the University of Southern California on Saturday.
Participants discussed ways to further the conversation of gun control and planned for a town hall featuring Bass in coming weeks.
“I wanted to take this to the next step and keep pushing for reform,” Howell said. “A lot of young people want change surrounding this and other issues, but they don’t vote or get involved or feel like their voice matters. It’s so important to make sure everyone knows their voice and their opinions are valued.”
Thompson recognized the legislative power students have to address gun violence as a social movement, citing the passage of the STOP School Violence Act to be directly related to the student-led gun control movement spurred from the Parkland shooting.
“[The student movement] created that momentum so we could get that tiny crack, that little bit of progress on an absolutely critical issue,” Thompson said. “It never would have happened if teenagers hadn’t been eloquent, speaking for themselves, and saying, ‘That is our lives you’re talking about. All of this crazy talk you’re arguing about in the background, it doesn’t matter. We’re dying in red states, and we’re dying in blue states.’ That momentum has continued to have an influence on how lawmakers think.”
Participant and Da Vinci High School student Charlie Fletcher ’19 said he wanted to participate in the meeting because he wanted to discuss more ways to encourage his peers for change and have their voices heard.
“I think it’s incredibly important for students to come together and discuss the issues of gun violence specifically because it affects us,” Fletcher said. “We are all victims of a faulty system and we deserve to have our voices heard. I believe that our generation will be the ones to advocate and create the change our nation desperately needs. All we need to do is take a stand.”