Thousands attend Denver March for Our Lives to talk gun rights, gun violence

Audrey Weiss

Video by Chapman Croskell

Thousands of people took to the streets and headed for Civic Center Park in Denver to bring attention to gun violence in the wake of the Parkland, Florida shooting that occurred on Feb. 14 and claimed the lives of 17 students and teachers.

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The Denver march was one of 800 in the United States that took place on March 24.

Colorado resident Sherri Bennett said she chose to attend the protest to show her support for students and families affected by school shootings.

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“I would like to see assault weapons banned,” Bennett said. “(I) don’t agree with our morally bankrupt government.”

Rally speakers emphasized that the Parkland shooting is only one of many and said gun violence should have ended after the Columbine High School shooting in April 1999.

Speakers included Tom Mauser, father of Daniel Mauser, who was one of the 15 killed in the Columbine shooting; Ally Olsen and Brooke Engel, two survivors of the Arapahoe High School shooting in 2013; Marcus Weaver, one of 70 injured during the Aurora Theater shooting; Diana Dang, survivor of the Isla Vista shooting in 2014; and Sara Grossman, a friend of a victim in the Pulse nightclub shooting in 2016. 

“The youth have led this fight, and after meeting organizers last night, it has reminded me that … we can make a difference,” Weaver said. “If you’re not with us, then you’re on the wrong side of history. We say, ‘No more.’”

Lastly, Maddie King, a survivor of the Parkland shooting, took the stage.

“My friends are dead,” King said to politicians. “(And) you aren’t doing anything.” 

Eight hundred March for Our Lives protests took place across the United States on March 24. Denver’s protest brought in a crowd of thousands of people advocating for both sides.

Jessica Fitches, who is from Parker, Colorado, said a friend of hers lost a student in the Florida shooting.

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Fitches stressed that she is willing to make a compromise, in exchange for responsible gun ownership.

“I don’t like guns, but I’m willing to compromise,” Fitches said. “Since all these shootings have happened, no laws have changed so … let’s try changing laws and see if that helps.”

Will, a counter-protester who declined to give his last name, said he would like to keep his right to all firearms. He said he hoped for discussion rather than argument.

“They have a right to say what they want to say, as do I,” Will said. “It’s protected in the First Amendment.”

A recent response to school shootings has been the arming of teachers. A school district in Colorado Springs has adopted the concept.

Sebastian Wolfe, a theater teacher for Jefferson County School District, said he is extremely against arming teachers.

“As someone who spends a lot of time … with students, I can never imagine having to pull the trigger on someone who’s in my classroom,” Wolfe said. “It’s so much harder than just, ‘Oh, there’s a bad guy with a gun in the building.’”

Wolfe suggested getting rid of assault rifles and bettering school security, specifically by hiring more security officers or improving security procedures. He chose to attend the event to stand in solidarity with his own students.

 

Collegian reporter Audrey Weiss can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @Audkward