Education, News

After Florida school massacre, hundreds rally in Raleigh for gun control

Zainab Antepli speaks at Tuesday’s gun control rally.

“I am 13 years old. I should be worried about what Netflix show I want to watch next, not a plan of escape from a public place.”

Sandra Gonzalez-Parral, an eighth grader from Wake County, was speaking to hundreds who gathered outside Pullen Memorial Baptist Church Tuesday in Raleigh to demand gun control legislation from state and federal lawmakers.

Zainab Antepli, another Wake County student, offered a fiery denunciation of school violence and anti-gun control politicians that stirred the crowd.

“We are calling for common sense,” said Antepli. “We are calling for adults to act like adults.”

The rally was emotional, hopeful and seething at the same time, as North Carolina K-12 students lit candles in memory of the 17 people who died in a mass shooting at a Parkland, Fla., high school last week. Afterwards, they marched down Hillsborough Street to the state capitol in downtown Raleigh, holding signs that alternately skewered legislators and gun culture.

“Thoughts and prayers cannot bring back those students to their families,” said Zoe Nichols, a student at Broughton High in Raleigh.

Tuesday’s rally was one of a number of massive, student-led protests cropping up since a 19-year-old  allegedly used an assault rifle to gun down teenagers and staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High a week ago.

Protesters are planning multiple events in March, including campus walk-outs and a national march in Washington, D.C., to advocate for change in the nation’s gun laws, even as gun rights groups push back against any restrictions.

Speakers on Tuesday talked about mental health awareness, but saved the most anger for the NRA and politicians such as Republican senators Richard Burr and Thom Tillis, who were reportedly among the largest beneficiaries of NRA contributions in the last election. 

Zoe Nichols, of Raleigh, addresses the rally Tuesday.

“We are watching you,” said Rev. Nancy Petty, pastor at Pullen Memorial. “We are paying attention and we demand change.”

“Once again our national leaders have failed us,” added Bryan Lee, Pullen Memorial’s youth minister. “Once again our state leaders have failed us.”

State leaders signaled their intent to at least discuss school safety in the coming weeks, with N.C. House Speaker Tim Moore announcing the launch of a new legislative committee geared toward possible legislation.

Yet the GOP-controlled General Assembly seems unlikely to approve any stringent gun restrictions in the coming days, even as Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, called on lawmakers to take action.

Legislators reportedly may talk over a proposal to arm school personnel, a controversial suggestion lobbed by Rep. Larry Pittman, a Cabarrus County Republican, last week.

Gov. Roy Cooper

Cooper said Tuesday that he spoke to his daughters after the Parkland shooting, and millennials have “had enough of this.”

“It is time to step up and do something,” said Cooper. “It is time to make sure that we look at all options, that we strengthen background checks. There is just no reason why someone with this background that people knew about should be able to go in and buy an (AR-15) assault rifle.”

 

Check Also

From DC to NC, our leaders were not ready for coronavirus

These times are surreal. And these words feel ...

Top Stories from NCPW

  • News
  • Commentary

Environmental destruction, property entanglements will take years to address Behind a black wooden f [...]

U.S. House votes for big funding boost as two new reports document the problem in NC [Editor's [...]

On July 16, the Onslow County Board of Education weighed one of the biggest decisions it had ever fa [...]

This week marks the 55th anniversary of one the most successful human service programs in U.S. histo [...]

Editor’s note: The issue of violence committed against women in the U.S. military, including sexual [...]

The GOP HEALS Act fails to heal people harmed by the coronavirus, will cost millions of jobs, and pr [...]

It’s been more than six months now since the novel coronavirus produced its first diagnosed infectio [...]

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted U.S. public education to a greater extent than any other event i [...]