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On Columbine anniversary, Seattle-area students keep up pressure for gun control

Saying they want to keep up the pressure on elected officials to pass new gun control measures, Seattle-area students joined a national school walkout on the 19th anniversary of the shooting at Columbine High School.

But they said Friday’s gathering was intended to shine a light on gun violence in the U.S. beyond shootings on school grounds. 

In Seattle, students took the podium in Occidental Square:

“I’m also sad that you had to be here. Because I know that the reason you had to be here is because we live with the fear of gun violence in our communities. And that’s not okay.”

—Niko Battle, Kamiak High School

[asset-images[{"caption": "Tae Phoenix said she was in high school when the Columbine shooting happened, and wishes students had done more to protest at the time. ", "fid": "144152", "style": "card_280", "uri": "public://201804/IMG_2811.JPG", "attribution": "Credit KUOW/Amy Radil"}]]“Imagine missing a school bus and in search for directions, knocking on a neighbor’s door. Brennan Walker, age 14, was given quite the shock when his harmless request was seen as a robbery, ending with him being shot at. Fortunately he escaped without a scratch, but that doesn’t change the inner pain of racial profiling.”

—Cayden Taylor, Kamiak High School

“Remember that you have the power, but you have to choose to use it. Go down to Olympia, scream your heart out doing chants in the Capitol Building – you’re allowed to do that! So do!”

—Johnna Munsen, Ingraham High School

“The NRA and its legislators are afraid of this momentum … They are afraid of us. Because we will take away their guns, we will take away their power over our government, we will change the world!”

—Max Weber, Bainbridge Island High School

The students pledged to keep campaigning for new age restrictions for semiautomatic weapons and other initiatives.

At Garfield High School, student Milo Paperman was not walking out — he said unlike most of his peers, he opposes new gun control measures. “I think it would be more beneficial to talk about security in schools as well as talk about mental health,” he said, adding, “Generally most people agree to disagree with me.”

Tae Phoenix came to support the students marching — she said she was in high school at Seattle’s Holy Name Academy during the Columbine shooting, and wishes she had protested at the time. She notes that was before social media. “Having these kinds of conversations on a nationwide level was harder but that’s really no excuse; we should have been more active,” she said.

But some students said they were torn between supporting the gun control walkout and preparing for crucial exams next week.

Meanwhile the College Republicans at the University of Washington convened a panel of legislators and commentators to discuss gun rights.

Alex Guerrero, the group’s treasurer: “The main idea here is sort of the Republican platform on the Second Amendment, the way we feel about guns,” he said, touching on the “school shooting epidemic, and how we feel we can stop that without resorting to gun control.”

He added,“I don’t necessarily agree with everything our panelists say, but I thought that it was necessary as a great starting point to start a dialogue on campus.”

Year started with KUOW: 2005