Hundreds turned out for the March For Our Lives event in downtown San Bernardino last weekend to demand for stricter gun laws nationwide.
Students from local schools were in unison with some of the survivors of the Inland Regional Center massacre that killed 14 people on Dec. 2, 2015. They believe lawmakers could to do more to prevent mass shootings and other gun-related tragedies.
“This is just the beginning,” said Erica Porteus, whose sister Yvette Velasco was killed during the attack. “When we go to the voting polls, we are sending a message to politicians. If they are not on the right side…they need to pack up and go.”
The national movement calling for more stringent gun laws is being spearheaded by the young survivors of the Douglas Stoneman High School mass shooting. Millions marched across U.S. cities last week in solidarity with the teenagers.
Parkland’s student leaders have lit a “fire under the soul” of Porteus, who was critical of the National Rifle Association and businesses affiliated with the organization. She believes lawmakers should work toward implementing mandatory background checks for gun buyers and banning assault rifle sales.
“All of those people’s lives were more valuable than any return on investments than what the NRA is getting for military style weapons,” said Porteous. “Those weapons were not made for general public use.”
“These are your family and community members who were touched that day on Dec. 2,” remarked Incredible Edible Community Garden Executive Director Eleanor Torres. “They feel so strongly about Parkland that they are now making a stand. Are we with them?”
ICUC has been speaking out against gun violence for over a decade. Recent tragedies have encouraged faith based leaders to align their efforts around gun violence reduction with national efforts.
Student organizers affiliated with the faith based group are planning to stage walkouts across San Bernardino schools on Monday April 20. They are calling on school district leaders to move away from “zero tolerance policies” and instead invest more on mental wellness and positive behavior intervention programs.
“We’re tired of the massacres taking place,” said Lopez. “We are the future and we will make change happen.”
Editor’s Note: The term survivor is used in this story to describe those who survived the mass shooting at the Inland Regional Center or family members of victims.