Students take action against school gun violence

After the postponement of the March for Our Lives rally in Cedar Falls because of a snow storm, 200 students and supporters marched down Main Street a week later to take the issue of school gun violence by storm.

On March 31, the March For our Lives rally in Cedar Falls was one of more than 800 marches in the United States. The protests totaled over one million students and supporters rallying for their lives against gun violence in schools after the  Valentine’s Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

Students were the leaders of the march in Cedar Falls, supported by many parents who joined the crowd with signs such as “Moms demand action.”

Dylan Mack, a sophomore from Columbus Catholic High School in Waterloo, was the main student organizer and lead speaker of the Cedar Falls rally. “One day someone might ask you, did you do anything to stop this?” he asked.

Other speakers represented five area high schools and UNI. Sophomore Ryan Westhoff represented Cedar Falls High School. “At first I was hesitant to take up this task but decided that this was too great an opportunity to voice my mind to pass up,” Westhoff said.

Westhoff spoke of the remembrance of the many drills that he as a student has had to go through for gun safety in school at the rally. After 17 students and teachers were killed in the Parkland shooting, the action to speak up became a necessity for Westhoff. “I wouldn’t say that my positions on gun laws changed, but my sense of urgency regarding the need for legislative action definitely went up. I used to think of gun control as a secondary issue, but now I think that it needs to be addressed as soon as possible,” he said.

Edina Kuduzovic, a sophomore at West High School, mentioned that the time to act is now and to not forget. “Textbooks are no longer for reading, but for shielding. We will go from visiting our friends at their houses to visiting them at cemetaries,” Kuduzovic said.

Westhoff and the other speakers at the March for Our Lives rally said it is time for their generation to be politically active.

“Students need to make  difference on this issue and a whole host of others because this is the world that we’re growing up into. This is the world that our kids will grow up into, and if we don’t take charge of our future, things won’t get better,” Westhoff said.

Gun violence is a pressing matter for many students in the United States, and in Cedar Falls.

“We can not let this happen another time. Not at a church, not at a concert and sure as hell not at my school,” Kuduzovic said.

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