By Kristin Jones
Hundreds of Colorado students joined a national walkout on March 14 to protest gun violence.
A month after the latest mass shooting killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, students in Denver were among those who protested. Students from East High School and Denver School of the Arts marched to the Capitol to call on lawmakers to prioritize their lives over guns.
“How many have to die for adults to give up their toys?” read one sign. “End gun violence. No more silence,” they chanted. And “Hey, hey, NRA, how many kids did you kill today?”
Young people are disproportionately likely to be killed by guns. Colorado teens and young adults ages 15 to 24 are more likely than any other age group to be shot dead, according to statistics from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
In our state alone, 164 children under the age of 18 were murdered with guns between 1999 and 2016, the latest year for which statistics are available.
Erica Pruitt, a seventh grader from Denver School of the Arts, says it’s something she worries about.
“We shouldn’t have guns at all,” she told me. “They’ve killed so many people, and it needs to stop.”
Gabrielle Hollowell, a sophomore at East High School, says she’s grown up with lockdown drills and is used to the steps you take—stay inside, hide. Still, there are times when the violence gets too close. Her best friend was at the Walmart in Thornton when a shooter killed three people there last year.
“The gun laws need to be changed. There need to be stricter guidelines,” Hollowell said.
Xavier, a junior at East High School, told me that he joined the protest today “because the laws on gun control are outrageous.”
He believes there should be a ban on automatic weapons, and age restrictions for buying all guns.
“It’s so easy to get all these deadly weapons,” he said. “That’s just the easiest way to die.”
That may not be true for everyone, but it’s true for young black men and boys. Nationwide, black males between the ages of 15 and 24 are much more likely to be killed by a gun than to die of any other cause.