Ohio Students Rally for Safer Schools

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About 200 of the students from high schools throughout Ohio who walked out of their buildings this morning made their way to the Statehouse. They were activists turned student lobbyists who urged lawmakers to pass or reject some gun bills under consideration.

The students gathered outside the Senate chambers to tell lawmakers they want changes to make schools safer. Among them was Matthew Youkilias, a junior in the Walnut Hills School District near Cincinnati.

“My cousin was one of the victims of the shooting in Parkland and her family, her immediate family, her extended family, we want to stand up and make this an issue so that this doesn’t happen to another family.”

His cousin, 14-year-old Jaime Guttenberg, was one of 17 killed in the mass shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida last month.

The students who came to the Statehouse had an agenda. Max Snyder, a senior from Sycamore High School in Cincinnati, outlined bills he said students were talking about.

“We want to prohibit domestic violence committers from having firearms near the victims of those incidents, we want to ban bump stocks, we want to prohibit assault weapons and keep a database of firearms and ammunition sold.”

The students also asked lawmakers to reject what’s known as the “Stand Your Ground bill” which makes it easier for gun owners to use lethal force. Allison Singleton, a senior at Walnut Hills High School, said she opposes the idea that President Trump champions to arm teachers.

“Schools and classrooms are supposed to be a place for scholarly growth. For kids who don’t have a safe home life, school is supposed to be that safety, that community of nurturing and arming teachers would totally destroy that.”

The students said they realize there are many people who criticize the national walkouts. And they know there are many lawmakers in the legislature who disagree with them. The students came just days after a large group of pro-gun advocates rallied at the Statehouse. But Emily Marmer, a senior at Walnut Hills High School, warned lawmakers not to reject the opinions of the students.

“We have such an influence. I think people underestimate that and we’re…every single person here is going to be 18 in a couple of years and those are all voters.”

Marmer said students plan to stay politically active and will be watching to see what lawmakers do, or don’t do, in the coming months.