Students take action to learn about gun violence

Samantha Huray

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Sam Huray

Congresswoman Lucy McBath quietly sits while she listens to student-activist Ethan Asher speak about gun violence in schools.

Fear. Confusion. Anger. Sadness. These are all emotions that students across the United States have felt over the past couple of years. In 2018, there were 24 school shootings with injuries or deaths. This unfortunate rise of school shootings has sparked the largest youth demonstration against gun violence ever. 
Grady students have been involved with this issue from the beginning. Two years ago, the school organized a walkout that led to a full-blown protest. Students stayed on the football field for hours, demonstrating how important the issue of feeling safe in school is to the community. 
Junior Abby Edlein decided to take their passion a step further. Edlein attended a National Gun Prevention Summit held by March for Our Lives this summer. Armed with new knowledge, she held a panel at her temple consisting of U.S. Representative Lucy McBath, Ethan Asher, and others to help educate students and parents about what is being done to keep people safe. 
“I had the idea to host an informational briefing beforehand for students because I remember when I first got involved with the issue, I was extremely uninformed about current events in the gun violence prevention movement,” Edlein said. 
During the panel, Edlein talked about major issues revolving around gun violence in Georgia and the U.S. Many Grady students were in attendance, including juniors Kristen Hart, Emila Gustafson, Shawn Gillespy, Devon Haller and senior Jordan Tucker. 
“A lot of times people only focus on mass or school shootings, and completely ignore gun violence when it comes to issues like suicide, low income neighborhoods, or the police force,” Edlein said. 
Ethan Asher, a senior at Centennial High School and former director for March for Our Lives GA was also in attendance. Asher spoke to the students beforehand and also spoke on the panel. One of his main points is that the extreme risk protection order needs to pass. This law temporarily restricts someone from buying a firearm and allows police to confiscate any firearm that has already been bought. It could have possibly prevented the Parkland shooting- the police visited the house of the shooter 37 times but were unable to confiscate his weapon. 
“I can promise you that every single one of your children has been in an active shooter drill. They all know where they would go in the event of a shooting,” Asher said on the panel. 
McBath said students should feel safe at school.
“No one should ever have to be in fear of being gunned down… or being in your schools. This is America. We can do better than than and you our children deserve better than that,” McBath said. 
McBath has experienced gun violence first-hand. Her son, Jordan Russell Davis, was shot at a gas station for playing music too loudly in his car. McBath has advocated and fought for gun restrictions ever since. 
“I’ve understood that my son did not die in vain. His life is meant to be part of a greater movement,” McBath said. “The first thing I did when I got to Washington was to make sure that no one in this room, no one in my district, no one across the country ever feels the pain and the horror and the angst of your loved one being gunned down.”
After confirming that someone was fighting for them in Washington, the students in the room appeared to have a weight lifted off their shoulders. It is extremely hard to look at the positives in this complex situation, but Congresswoman McBath’s passion flowed through everyone in the room. Part of this passion left its mark on Edlein, who is starting a March for Our Lives chapter at Grady. 
“For Grady students who are interested in this issue, or any issue, the most important thing to do is get informed about what you’re advocating for,” Edlein said. “For this issue in particular, I cannot stress enough how important it is to know who your state representatives are, your senators, your Congress people, or anyone who represents you in the government. With you as their constituent, they have a civil duty to listen to you and consider the causes you advocate for.”  
Edlein will discusses all of this information in her meetings, along with the overall picture of gun violence. Students will learn exactly what legislation has been passed and the consequences, as well as what could possibly be passed to decrease the violence, she said. 
“No matter what issue you’re advocating for, there are always going to be people who want to fight against you and try to prove you wrong. But they can’t deny the facts. If you find facts and statistics and legislation that support your cause, people are more willing to listen to you,” Edlein said.