Students, parents, lawmakers demand gun reform on Capitol steps
Students rallied on the steps of the Michigan Capitol building for gun reform Wednesday. Carrying signs and lifting their voices, they spoke about current events, like the Parkland school shooting, to demand change.
The rally was in part organized by 11th grade student Nash Salami from Plymouth High School with the help of Phoebe Hopps, founder of Women’s March Michigan.
“I feel like it’s a really good way to raise awareness and bring attention to the issue of the things that are happening in our schools and spread the idea that our lives matter," Salami said. “We depend on our state legislators to pass laws that protect us in school.”
Salami said it’s time for those who may not be of voting age to still make their voices heard.
“For decades, adults have been debating this issue of gun control," Salami said. "I feel like it’s really time for our generation to step up, since they’re not really the ones who are at danger of these guns. It’s us in the high schools."
Teachers, candidates for political office, students and others involved in education and gun reform spoke.
Plymouth High School is a part of a three-school campus called the Plymouth-Canton Educational Park, or PCEP. PCEP had a school lockdown days after the Parkland shooting and another lockdown a few weeks later.
Another PCEP student, Raleigh Nolan, spoke at the rally about her experiences in high school. A point of concern for her is the reported six minutes the shooting took place at Marjory Stoneman Douglas and how the passing time between buildings at PCEP is 10 minutes.
“As much as I hate to say it, PCEP is a major tragedy just waiting to happen,” Nolan said during her speech. “Unfortunately, the longer our legislators wait to make a change, the date of this potential tragedy looms closer and closer.”
In the crowd, Nolan’s mom, dad and sister stood in solidarity. Her mom, Angela Nolan, said she is supportive of young people finding and using their voices and participating in policy making.
“I don’t sit back. I walk alongside her when she does things like this and I want her to speak up,” Angela Nolan said. “She never asked any opinion on her speech — nothing. I had nothing to do with it. I’m just here to support.”
Like many parents, Angela Nolan received notice that PCEP was on lockdown soon after the Parkland shooting. She said the feeling of having a child in that situation is awful.
“I just thought, 'This is ridiculous, we can’t live in a normal school day society anymore because these kids are constantly on edge,’” Angela Nolan said. "Especially the kids who have natural anxiety and fears already, I just can’t imagine what they’re feeling."
Hopps said she believes young people are most affected by violence and that their voices are loud in the conversation on gun reform.
Though the rally was small, Hopps said she believes events like these have meaning. She said she remembers the Columbine High School massacre, which resulted in the deaths of 12 students and one teacher back when she was high school.
“I can only think, what if my friends and I, what if we were brave enough to have started this movement 19 years ago? How many deaths would have been saved?” Hopps said. “I guess we always thought it just seemed so impossible, and right now it seems possible that we can actually make a difference and make this reform happen, finally.”