MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Hundreds of children marched on the State Capitol in St. Paul Wednesday demanding an end to gun violence.
Pro-gun control legislators say these young voices are being heard, and that next year could be the year for new gun control laws. The kids and adults who marched say they are angry that more is not being done to prevent gun violence, and prevent young people from becoming victims.
The children are enrolled in summer “Freedom Schools” sponsored by the Children’s Defense Fund. Along with academics, they learn the impact of social activism.
“It’s super important to teach them to advocate for themselves,” said Emmanuel Donaby, director of the Stem Freedom Schools. “We have a horrible gun epidemic, killing and deaths that are happening.”
Some of the lessons on gun violence are taught.
“We are marching because a lot of kids are getting killed,” said student Sahra Mohamed. “About 3,410 were killed in 2017.”
Others lessons are lived.
“For example, what happened to Philando Castile. That is kind of dangerous to me and scary to me,” said student Jair Ocampo. “It scares me because what if I get shot?”
State Representative Dave Pinto sponsored gun control legislation in the last legislative session, which didn’t pass the Republican-controlled Senate.
“The 2018 election was powered in many ways by voters who said, ‘We want progress on a number of issues, this being a major one,’ and the Minnesota House responded to that,” Pinto said. “The Minnesota Senate was not up for election in 2018. If they had been, I think they would have heard the same thing.”
Legislators say they will introduce pro-gun control measures in the next legislative session, but gun groups say they will be right there to fight back. Next year, the battle will take place with the backdrop of the 2020 election, when all 201 members of the Minnesota legislature will be up for reelection.