April 10, 2018 – This weekend, “Town Hall For Our Lives” crowded school auditoriums, gymnasiums and community centers across the country as students and young leaders demanded action from their elected officials on the epidemic of gun violence.
These students made their voices heard and made it clear to their representatives that enough is enough. Just as the March For Our Lives galvanized thousands of students to come together in their communities to demand change, Town Hall For Our Lives brought these same students together to create a dialogue within their congressional districts. This time, they urged their leaders to hear their pleas and took note of those who failed to show up.
The momentum is shifting. Giffords recently released a “Marching to the Polls” video highlighting the emotion and motivation young voters felt following the March For Our Lives. These voters were motivated at the Town Hall For Our Lives and will continue to carry their momentum into November as their hold their elected officials accountable at the ballot box.
- Who Showed Up: Democratic house candidate Randy Bryce
- Who Didn’t Show Up: House Speaker Paul Ryan
“A town hall isn’t a new concept but in the wake of all the recent tragedies it’s something that’s so important.” – Susanna Bucklin, high school senior
Santa Clarita, CA: Local students host gun control town hall (The Signal)
- Who Showed Up: Four candidates running against Congressman Steve Knight: Bryan Caforio, Katie Hill, Jess Phoenix, Mary Pallant.
- Who Didn’t Show Up: Rep. Steve Knight
“I’m an 18-year-old black girl, and when I walk down the street my first thought is not being attacked by a stranger. My first thought and heart-wrenching fear is being stopped by a police officer. Not because I’m thinking about an action I have done; I fear a police stopping me and finding a reason that what I’m doing is punishable. Gun violence and police brutality go hand-in-hand. When one is given a gun, some become fearful of its power.” – Osato Omoregie, student at Saugus High School
“It’s very easy to to look at today’s politics and make quick judgements. What isn’t easy is having a one-on-one conversation with one another, and engaging in this town hall.” – Lèan Aguilar a Saugus High School student
- Who Showed Up: Brunswick Chief of Police Richard Rizzo, State Sen. Brownie Carson, Rep. Mattie Daughtry and Brunswick Town Council. Sen. Angus King sent a message to be read.
“I’ve always been scared about the possibility of a shooting, but the fact that it was people our own age and that they’ve been so vocal about it really made me very aware of the situation. t’s inspiring and it makes us want to become more vocal.” – Pearl Stuart, Brunswick High School sophomore
- Who Showed Up: State Rep. Carol Alvarado, candidates for the 7th Congressional District Laura Moser and Lizzie Fletcher, candidate for Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, candidate for the 8th Congressional District Steve David and Rita Lucido, state Senate candidate for District 17.
“We all agree this issue is too big. We’re going to get tired, but we’re not going to give up.” – Marcel McClinton, a Statford High School student
“If we wait until it’s most convenient for us to raise our voices, real change will never come. Never forget those we lost to gun violence because we can never forget why we are fighting.” – Hannah Meeks, Rice University freshman and Marjory Stoneman Douglas graduate
- Who Showed Up: Rep. Scott Peters.
- Who Didn’t Show Up: Rep. Duncan Hunter
“We are not stealing guns away. We are not trying to take away your right to own guns. We simply want to restrict the guns you’re able to buy to make sure you’re using them for the right intentions. If we have to go through standardized testing, so should gun owners.” – Hannah Williams, a senior at Poway High School
- Who Showed Up: Rep. Hank Johnson, state Senate Minority Leader Steve Henson, gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, state Rep. Park Cannon, Rep. Karen Handel, Rep. Kim Schofield and Rep. John Lewis.
“I walk into school and I never know if I’m gonna come back out or if my friends are gonna come back out,” Vellines said. “If somebody comes to school with an assault rifle there’s nothing you can do because you can’t outrun a bullet. You just have to hope you don’t die.” – Annabette Vellines, a Druid Hills High School student
Despite the overwhelming support for strengthening gun laws, some elected officials chose to decline invitations for the town halls.
Absent from town halls included:
- Who Didn’t Show Up: Rep. David Rouzer.
“With the Parkland shooting that happened in Florida, students have just become a lot more aware of changes that need to happen. And now something has hit really close to home. We all go to high school, and it could have been any school in the country that such a tragedy could have occurred.” – Elizabeth McDonald, John T. Hoggard High School junior
- Who Didn’t Show Up: Gov. Doug Ducey, Arizona House Speaker J.D. Mesnard, Senate President Steve Yarbrough and Reps. Travis Grantham and Kelly Townsend.
“Angela Mann, an event organizer and freshman at Pinnacle High School in Phoenix, said she was disappointed in the no-shows.”
“The fact that only Democrats attended made it clear which party was actually willing to have face-to-face conversations about gun control, she added.”
“’It’s important that they listen to their constituents, and that’s hard to do if they can’t make time to come to events like this,’ she said.”
Binghamton, NY: Broome County Legislators Attend Town Hall Of Our Lives
- Who Didn’t Show Up: Rep. Claudia Tenney
“I think it was good that we had people who wanted to ask questions and that they got answers. I think it’s really important that we have this open dialogue with our officials and that we can be comfortable asking a question and they can be comfortable giving us an answer, even if they don’t have the complete answer.” – Benjamin Reynolds, Broome County High School Democrats of America