Letter to the editor: An open invitation from Students Against School Shootings

March For Our Lives — Iowa City

College Green Park (151 S Dodge St) — Saturday, March 24 at 11 a.m.

Students from City High marched to the Pentacrest during a walk out to protest gun violence and government inaction in the wake of the most recent school shooting in Florida. Monday, Feb. 19, 2018. — photo by Zak Neumann

By Theo Prineas, Iowa City High School student, representing Students Against School Shootings (SASS)

An open invitation to Iowa City residents,

Students have a lot to deal with. Building a resumé isn’t exactly a cakewalk, and those entering the workforce likely already have jobs. I for one work as an aide at the Iowa City Public Library so I can live on my own during a gap year.

One Saturday evening, while I was shelving in my favorite section (science fiction and fantasy), I heard someone had been shot on the corner of Linn and College Street, just in front of the library, and that the shooter was still active. The aides were told to watch for patrons acting strangely or carrying firearms. The image of a shooter in a would-be safe public place, my second home, is devastating. I don’t want to see this image come to life anywhere, whether it be in the library, my school or any other public facilities.

That’s why I march. I’m not the only one; hundreds of thousands of students across the U.S. walked out on March 14, united under the same message: not one more.

It might seem like we’ve already done a lot in protest, but we still haven’t seen significant changes — or even any attempts at reasonable, logical change — on a state or federal level.

The Iowa State Congress hasn’t taken any action on passing reasonable gun legislation. If anything, the 2017 legislative session saw it get worse. The support of the Republican-dominated state congress allowed HF 517 and HF 2281 to pass in Iowa. These two bills allow permit owners to carry in the state capital, enhance stand-your-ground laws, permit children to use handguns, reduce regulation of short-barrelled shotguns and rifles and more.

On the national level, Sen. Chuck Grassley refused to give a straight answer when asked if he would stop taking money from the NRA, even when pushed by the crowd during a town hall in Manchester. Grassley and Sen. Joni Ernst have voted along the Republican party line, supporting gun control across the board. The day after Parkland, they both voted in favor of HJ Res 40, a step by Congress to reduce gun control laws further.

That’s why we’re holding another rally, open to the entire community, on March 24. The only way to achieve logical action on guns is to keep fighting for it, to keep calling our representatives, to keep yelling at those who choose to represent NRA money rather than their constituents that we’re watching them, and we will be voting against them this election cycle.

These congresspeople (mainly Republicans in my experience) appear to value the money they get from the NRA over the opinions of their constituents. Unfortunately for them, money doesn’t elect them. We do. These representatives would have you think that we students aren’t organized; that we’re being manipulated by our parents; that we only walk out to get out of class; but the truth is that we’re united, motivated and will be voting as soon as we can. It’s time for change. Not one more.

This article was originally published in Little Village issue 239.

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