Around three hundred students, professors, parents and concerned citizens marched along the North Belt Highway with various viewpoints on gun regulation and gun violence, but despite these differences they all shared one goal: protecting students.
On March 24, people met at the Ryan’s parking lot to participate in the national March for Our Lives protest. March for Our Lives started as a result of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida on February 14.
Protesters walked two miles with signs in hand, stopping along the way to listen to speakers talk about gun violence.
Among the speakers was Assistant Director for External Relations for Student Government Association Paul Granberry III who has victims of gun violence in his family.
“I knew people who were victims,” Granberry said. “I spoke about the last conversation I had with my uncle before he died due to gun violence.”
One way that Granberry thinks America can prevent more shootings is by protests like March for Our Lives.
“It starts off with activism,” Granberry said. “Spreading the word out to politicians, spreading the message. If they are unable to receive this message, then they will be replaced. If not this November, then the Novembers to come in the future. Keep pushing. Stay on track. The only thing we can do is to try to promote a culture of gun safety.”
Central High School junior Jessica Miller spoke at the March because she said that she has friends on both sides of the gun regulation debate. She says that people are missing the big picture.
“We need to be able to look at the Florida shooting,” Miller said. “When I look at that, I see all the things they went through like the group chat where they see their dead friend on the floor. That can’t be a thing. We need to care now before it happens. That’s what’s important.”
Miller says that in order to prevent future school shootings, there need to be some changes.
“There’s the mental health check [for gun regulation], which is widely accepted,” Miller said. “I think once we start using those, then we will be able to make more progress. I think it’s just one step at a time.”
Student Governor Joseph Kellogg spoke and said that his reason for speaking at the March had to do with Americans’ reactions towards school shootings over the past few years.
“I marched because I think it’s not fun hearing about school shootings and mass shootings and shootings everyday in the news,” Kellogg said. “I think we’ve gotten too comfortable.”
Kellogg said that the Florida shooting changed the way Americans are talking about school shootings.
“This time, the students at Parkland didn’t let it go away. They were in the news, they kept people talking about it and so when the March was announced, I wanted to be involved and march with it. I thought that was a time to show that we’re not comfortable with gun violence. We’re not comfortable with it crippling our communities, and it’s over and if you’re not with us then something’s going to happen.”
Vice President of Student Affairs Shana Meyer walked in March for Our Lives for her children and students at Western.
“The number one priority in my life is my children and that’s me personally,” Meyer said. “In my job and my profession, really the core in what I do is being here for students and trying to make sure this is a safe place for all our students physically, in their freedom of thought [and] freedom of expression.”
The March was organized by faculty and staff at Missouri Western such as Assistant Professor of Political Science Melinda Kovács and Instructor of English Brooksie Kluge, Western group Women of the Future and organizations such as Buchanan County Women’s Democratic Club, Buchanan County MO Democrats, Persisterhood of St. Joseph, Missouri, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and The OUR Revolution.