Juneau residents and legislators protested Saturday in solidarity with the March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C.
Like the Parkland survivors who led the national protest, Alaskans called on lawmakers to do more to protect not only students, but everyone, from gun violence.
About 200 people gathered outside the Juneau offices of Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan. They called for more gun control legislation and stricter background checks for those buying guns.
Juneau-Douglas High School senior Noah Williams spoke and led the crowd in chants. He said he wants to see lawmakers like Murkwoski and Sullivan stop accepting money from the NRA.
“They stand to gain a profit off of our deaths and I think that’s disgusting and I don’t think we have to stand for it anymore,” Williams said.
State Rep. Geran Tarr also spoke. The Anchorage Democrat introduced House Bill 75 last year. It establishes red flag laws that allow judges to remove guns from the homes of people at higher risk of committing acts of violence.
“The idea is that you’re trying to intervene in a crisis situation and prevent someone from harming themselves or others and using the court to help you intervene by removing the guns,” Tarr said.
The bill has had several hearings in the House Judiciary Committee and Tarr said she’s hopeful it will be moved out next week.
After some initial confusion, the marchers headed for the state Capitol, where a smaller group rallied.
Several Juneau residents who survived the Route 91 Harvest festival shooting in Las Vegas last October also attended. Ivana Barrick went to the festival as she had several times before, never imagining that it would become the site of the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.
“As a gun owner myself, we just want to make a distinguished line and people who are responsible with guns and then we need to make stricter laws for people who do have problems, that we do need to address it,” Barrick said. “So something has to change and we fully support Parkland and what they’ve started.”
Juneau’s march was one of hundreds playing out across the country Saturday. The main march in Washington, D.C. drew hundreds of thousands. The latest wave of demands for stricter gun laws have been spurred largely by the student activists who survived the school shooting in Parkland, Florida.
Rep. Harriet Drummond said watching young people take a stand against gun violence, including last week’s student walkouts in Juneau and elsewhere, has been inspiring.
“I don’t think we’re gonna be able to stop these young people and why would we want to? This is how change happens,” Drummond said.
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