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Student Activists Surround Arizona Capitol Calling For Gun Reform

Thousands of Arizona teens showed up to the March For Our Lives demonstration at the Arizona Capitol on Saturday, joining a series of marches nationwide. Whether they attended high school in Scottsdale, Mesa or Glendale, these students had one message: “Enough is enough.”

Speakers at the event included survivors of gun violence and U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz.

Lindsay Schawelson is a senior at Desert Mountain High School in Scottsdale. She and several other students have been organizing the march for the past several weeks. Schawelson said people shouldn’t underestimate the power of the young voice.

"The youth have led every single movement that I have ever heard of,” she said. “Watch us make a difference and watch us vote out the people who are not keeping us safe. You know, we’re going to keep showing up. So many youth showed up today from every single school across the Valley.”

Schawelson and other young activists say a gun-reform plan proposed by Gov. Doug Ducey isn’t enough. They want to see a ban on bump stocks and universal background checks. They also want more money for school counselors, not school resource officers.

Alice Lavallee is a junior at Deer Valley High School in Glendale. She attended the march and said she’s been the target of gun violence because of her sexual orientation. She says an anonymous man on Instagram sent her a threatening message.

"[He] sent pictures of his guns and said that he would come to our school and shoot it up because of people like us,” Lavallee said. “The whole idea of having to do lockdown drills instead of just making it harder for dangerous people to have weapons is kind of disgusting.”

A group of conservatives also showed up to the Capitol on Saturday for a counter-protest called March For Our Second. Karen Barrett was among those who came to advocate for Second Amendment rights.

“I think we need to focus more on mental health than anything,” she said. “Stopping good people that have firearms isn’t going to stop criminals. Making us helpless isn’t going to make them harmless.”

Barrett said there are other ways to prevent gun violence besides changing the gun laws.

“Like in the case of Parkland, there was like 35 calls made to the FBI and other officials and nobody did anything,” Barrett said. “He could’ve been helped at any point along the way and nobody did anything.”

Booths from several different political organizations were also set up at the Capitol. Everyone, young people especially, was encouraged to become a registered voter.

Senior field correspondent Bridget Dowd has a bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.