Thousands of students, teachers and parents took to the streets of downtown Reno this weekend to demand stricter gun control laws. As Reno Public Radio’s Paul Boger reports, the demonstration was part of a national march aimed at ending gun violence across the country.
Carrying signs and chanting slogans like “enough is enough” and “we will vote,” hundreds of students braved blustery winds and snowfall, to lead thousands of gun control activists down Virginia Street in Reno. They marched in solidarity with hundreds of similar demonstrators around the nation and globe.
Among the students was Alyssa Wetherbee. She was 11 when a gunman killed 20, six and seven-year-olds at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. Now, almost six years later, as a 17-year-old junior at Spanish Springs High, Wetherbee says that same fear continues to linger. For her changing gun laws in the U.S. and Nevada would be the first steps in keeping more students safe at school.
“18th-century laws shouldn’t control 21st-century weapons,” Wetherbee said. “When the Second Amendment was created we had muskets. Now, we have assault rifles and Glocks and things that are made to kill, and they’re made to kill effectively.”
Saturday’s demonstration marked the second time in as many weeks students and others have demonstrated for stricter gun control laws. The demonstrations, which took place across the country, come in the wake of the shooting at a Parkland, Florida, high school that left 17 students and faculty dead.
Most of the protestor’s demands centered on calls for raising the minimum age to buy a gun to 21, instituting universal background checks and banning automatic weapons and bump stocks – the device used by the gunman left 58 dead and hundreds more injured in Las Vegas last October.
“I’m terrified,” said Sarah Elliott is with Nevada Chapter of Moms Demand Action, a part of the larger, national pro-gun reform activist group. As the mother of three-year-old, she says she’ nervous about sending her son to school. “I know statistically speaking; it’s very unlikely that my son would be injured by a gun in school. I don’t want his to have to suffer through the red codes. I don’t want him to have to hide in fear. I want him to go to school knowing that he’ll be safe.”
In response, the National Rifle Association released a short recruitment video on its Facebook page saying the marches were orchestrated by Hollywood elites and billionaires pushing an anti-gun agenda. The group has long argued that efforts to strengthen gun control would infringe upon the Second Amendment and as well as an individual’s right to defend themselves.