by Sarah Willson
Thousands of concerned students, teachers and parents came together at the Connecticut State Capitol in Hartford to demand tougher gun laws for a country they believe is facing one of the worst mass-casualty crises in history.
The demand for change from hundreds of thousands of students across the United States came after only a little over a month after the Parkland, Florida high school shooting where 17 people lost their lives.
Hundreds of other marches took place across various parts of the U.S., with one in Washington, D.C. gathering an estimated 800,000 protesters and forcing the National Guard to be brought in to help with security measures.
The march in Hartford, however, brought in some of the most powerful voices to talk about gun reform. Senators Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal came, only to name a few.
Still, some of the most compelling voices heard were those of local students, including Kassandra “Kass” Fruin, presidential candidate of the SGA.
“We will not remain silent,” Fruin said in front of the crowd. “There are going to be times when people doubt our abilities. There will be times when people tell us not to waste our energy. We will not listen to you.”
“I strongly believe that we have a lot of work to do and we will persist,” Fruin continued. “This affects everyone no matter how big or small… we are going to have to come together to prevent more tragedies from happening [like Sandy Hook] no matter the politics.”
High school students also spoke out, concerned of how often they say some of their schools are participating in active shooter drills.
“We don’t want to die,” Rebecca Davis of Fairfield High School said clutching to a sign reading, ‘Am I next?’ “We also participated in the walkout at our school, so we wanted to continue to participate in this one. [We want] change and [stricter] gun laws.”
Parents of children who said that they are “constantly fearing for their children’s safety” also took to the streets to let their voices be heard.
“I’m a mother and I have a three-year-old and I can’t even imagine what all the parents who have lost children have gone through. It’s completely unimaginable,” Julie Vicford said with her “Enough is enough” poster waving in the air. “I don’t want [my son] to have to go through that.”
Vicford, who is a high school teacher, is also no stranger to the dangers of school shootings, as she said that crisis drills are just another part of her job.
“I have to take my kids through lockdowns and active shooter drills,” Vicford said. “I worry about the safety of my students, but I have a lot of passionate students who are down in Washington today. It’s really awesome to see them rise up against this issue.”
Vicford, however, was not the only one who thought “enough is enough.” That very chant roared throughout the crowd as Blumenthal showed his support for the protesters by speaking out against gun violence.
“This is what democracy looks like,” Blumenthal said to the crowd. “This is what America looks like. I have never felt more hopeful for a reform than right now. We are going to take our own people into our hands and we are going to make a difference.”
Murphy, too, relayed a message of hope, reminding protesters that America is only eight short months away from midterm elections where citizens will have the opportunity to “vote them out.”
“This is what change looks like. There is no way you can stop us now,” Murphy said, referring to the National Rifle Association. “I can say with confidence that we are bigger and better than the NRA. We only have one last resort, and that’s to vote them out.”
“This is a moment you are never going to forget,” Murphy said. “They say you look back in history books and look at those big moments and think, ‘What would I do if I was alive back then?’ Well listen, you are alive right now, so what are you going to do?”
More than anything, those who rallied said they just want a change.
“I think enough is enough. It’s time [for change],” activist Louisa Holmes said. “I don’t feel like there’s absolutely any reason anyone needs an assault weapon. Just because I’m old and don’t have kids, [it] doesn’t mean that I don’t think this is outrageous.”
Despite the fact that President Donald Trump fled the White House for the protest, his administration has introduced a new legislation that could outlaw “bump stocks,” a device that helps rifles fire like automatic weapons. Still, there is no exact date on when these regulations will be finalized.