The Keene State College Feminist Collective held a walkout on the student center lawn Friday, April 20, to bring the community together and raise awareness for gun violence in schools.
Feminist Collective President Katherine Briefs said she hoped the walkout would build knowledge about gun violence instead of taking a political stance. “This initiative is more about honoring the victims and survivors of school shootings,” Briefs said.
The walkout was largely inspired by the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students who have led the change in this effort. “The survivors are doing a good job at taking a terrible tragedy and trying to make something good happen from it,” Briefs said.
The walkout is not the only thing Feminist Collective has done to educate students on the issue. According to Briefs, they also held two break-out sessions after the walkout at 11:30 a.m. and 12:45 p.m. in the Putnam Science Center. “We want people to know that KSC students are politically active,” Briefs said. “We have a voice and we want it to be heard.”
Another student who helped organize the walkout, first-year Jack Hanson, said he feels very close to the issue of gun violence in schools. Hanson lives one town away from Newtown, Connecticut, and went to the rally in Washington, D.C. to show his support. “I really hope this initiative helps to spread the word that we have all been affected by gun violence,” Hanson said.
Hanson said he thinks assault weapons such as the ones used in the Sandy Hook massacre should be banned from purchase. “This is a war weapon,” Hanson said. “The military uses these guns, but we don’t need militarized weapons being sold to the public.”
Additionaly, Hanson said he supports the second amendment “right to own firearms” and wants to assure people that the ultimate goal is not to take guns away from responsible owners. “We aren’t trying to take guns away, we just want more mental screenings and background checks so that guns don’t fall into the wrong hands,” Hanson said.
“The ultimate goal of the walkout is to promote awareness and unify the Keene State College community, not to infringe on people’s rights,” Hanson said. “This isn’t meant to be a political debate, it’s a moral issue. People need to understand that gun violence kills people and destroys people’s lives.”
Students involved in the walkout said they want people to envision themselves in the position of a survivor or relative or friend of someone who was killed in a school shooting. “You have no idea what this tragedy does to people,” Hanson said. “If you went through what they did then you can’t call these people actors. I call B.S..”
Program Support Assistant for LGBTQ Students Hunter Kirschner said he thinks it is too difficult to differentiate between who should own a gun and who shouldn’t. “The idea that some people should own guns and some shouldn’t is a slippery slope,” Kirschner said. “The gun is risky, regardless of the hand that it is in.”
Kirschner said it is good that the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School survivors can share their voices, but there is a large number of students who aren’t receiving the same attention. “All of the students of Stoneman Douglas need to be represented equally,” Kirschner said. He added that the movement would have more of an impact if there were more students involved in the effort.
“There needs to be some common ground,” Kirschner said. “We are becoming more divided as a result of these tragedies, when we really need to be united.” Kirschner explained that the real issue is not one of gun laws and constitutional rights, but of the overall safety of the public.
Kirschner said, “The real question is, how do we keep people safe? This initiative is supposed to pull together different groups to stand together in solidarity against gun violence. That’s what this is really all about.” For more about why the Feminist Collective put this on, see A1.
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