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Iowa City students will hold a candlelight vigil in response to the school shooting in Texas

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Students Against School Shootings candlelight vigil

Iowa City High School — Monday, May 21 at 7:30 p.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

There will be a candlelight vigil at Iowa City High School on Monday evening to express solidarty with the students at Santa Fe High School near Houston, Texas. On Friday morning, there was a mass shooting at Santa Fe High, in which 10 people were killed and another 10 were wounded.

The vigil is being organized by Students Against School Shootings Iowa (SASS), which was formed by local high school and junior high school students following the mass shooting in February at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

“We wanted to get something together as quickly as we could,” said Phoebe Chapnick-Sorokin, a City High junior and founding member of SASS. “It’s going to be really simple, but it will be really meaningful and hopefully make a difference.”

“Obviously this isn’t all we’re going to do in response to the shooting,” she added. “But it’s really disturbing to see this happen, and students needed to be comforted and in the presence of others.”

Even before it officially adopted its name, SASS organized the Feb. 10 student walkout in Iowa City to protest the lack of government action in response to school shootings. The group also organized the Iowa City March for Our Lives on March 24, that attracted more than 400 marchers, despite bitterly cold temperatures and a snow storm. Last month, SASS staged die-in protests in Iowa City and Grinnell on the anniversary of the 1999 Columbine High School shooting.

“We’ve be doing those public things—like the die-in and the march—but behind the scenes we’ve been doing other things,” Chapnick-Sorokin explained. “We are constantly calling legislators, sending letters, registering people to vote.”

Members of SASS also went to the state capitol to speak with legislators as this year’s legislative session was drawing to close.

“We were able to get our footing there, and made some connections,” Chapnick-Sorokin said. “We showed them we’re really going to work for this, and we’re not going to back down.”

Most the legislators the group met with we’re already supportive of their stance in favor of what SASS calls common sense gun laws. But they also met with Rep. Matt Windschitl.

The Missouri Valley Republican favors removing all licensing requirements for owning a gun. He made national news last year by proposing a bill that would have allowed for the concealed carry of firearms at the Iowa State Fair.

“We know what his position is and that he disagrees with us, but we had a really productive conversation with Rep. Windschitl,” Chapnick-Sorokin said.

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The vigil in front of City High will begin at 7:30 p.m. SASS will have candles for those who attend.

The shooting at Santa Fe High was the 22nd school shooting in the United States since the beginning of the year. According to an analysis published last month by The Washington Post, there have been approximately 200 shootings at American primary and secondary schools since the Columbine shooting in 1999.


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