Parkland shooting survivors energize Denver crowd on gun reform

DENVER -- Change doesn’t happen overnight, and for young leaders and activists pushing for gun reform, they want to keep the conversation alive.

An energized crowd came together at Shorter Community AME Church in Denver on Friday to discuss issues surrounding gun control and all types of gun violence nationwide.

“We shouldn’t be putting a Band-Aid on these things to make the NRA happy,” said Jessica Maher with Never Again Colorado.

Nearly a dozen student survivors from Majority Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida led the charge, participating in a panel to share experiences, observations and solutions toward gun violence. It’s part of the Road to Change tour, a continuation of March for Our Lives.

“It’s all about being empathetic and realizing that it doesn’t have to directly affect you to be passionate about a cause,” said Jammal Lemy with March For Our Lives.

The panel included powerful local stories as well. Paula Reed was a teacher at Columbine High School during the 1999 mass shooting and shared her perspective about the shooters she had in her own classroom.

“As we start picking up more energy about the idea of arming teachers, I also taught Dylan Klebold,” Reed said. “Don’t ever ask me to shoot one of my students.”

The discussion didn’t just focus on school shootings, but all gun violence. Panelists tried to break down the stereotypes associated with these shootings around different backgrounds.

“If you are an African American and you shoot somebody, 'Oh, it’s gang violence',” said student activist Alex King. “If you’re from the Middle East, 'Oh, it’s a terrorist attack.' If you’re white, 'Oh, it’s mental health problems'.”

Standing outside the church, a couple people waved American flags, not necessarily protesting the people inside, but standing up for their Second Amendment rights.

“The idea of us being able to protect ourselves, our country and our families,” said Patrick Binder of Broomfield. He believes the actions of the few shouldn’t lead to taking away constitutional freedoms. “A crazy person used a firearm to take and attack unarmed people. That’s not the right idea.”

At the end of the event, there was a strong effort from organizers to register voters, hoping to make an impact in the upcoming election. Road to Change says it has registered thousands of voters across the country during its tour.

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