(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) In cities across the country, thousands of protesters took to the streets Saturday to speak out against gun violence.
In St. Joseph nearly 300 people marched along North Belt Highway during the March for Our Lives protest. Lead by the voices of local students, hundreds of people joined in the protest with the same goal in mind.
March for Our Lives coordinator and Missouri Western State University Political Science Professor Melinda Kovas said the movement was centered around a desire for common sense gun reform.
“Let’s get to the point were parents don’t have to worry about children going off to school and whether they are going to be alright or not,” Kovacs said.
Following the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida that claimed the lives of 17 people, students across the country demanded change.
The two mile march was filled with high school and college students speaking out about their frustrations with current policies on gun control and concerns for student safety.
The protest was predominately student lead, but supported by people of all ages.
“We don’t want the young people to be the only ones, we don’t want to make them feel like nobody else cares,” Kovacs said.“It’s important to show this is not just your generations issue. We are with you.”
The movement even gained the support of Missouri Western international student Mikayla Sellers- Wiebe.
“Being down in the states, I’ve met a lot of people transferred from various schools, so it makes me a little nervous that all the people I know, who are so spread out could potentially be in danger at all times,” Sellers-Wiebe said.
Sellers-Wiebe is originally from Canada and she said while language and social issues are similar in the United States, gun policy is very different on the other side of the border.
“It’s not something that we give a lot of thought to in Canada, because we don’t really have a lot of issues with mass shootings,” Seller-Wiebe said. “I don’t think that schools are a place where guns should be. We need to make a difference now.”
As the national conversation surrounding gun regulations continues to stew, many of the protesters said they will remain persistent in pursuing their goal.
“After today, the conversation is not over,” Kovacs said. “The important thing is [to] keep organizing, keep having the conversations, keep the focus on this issue.”
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