The Movement Against Gun Violence by Bay Area Student Activists
We at BrokeAssStuart.com are incredibly inspired by the student movement against gun violence happening in our country. Bellow is coverage of that very movement by Bay Area Student Activists Kate Sippey. Kate is a Junior in Highschool, at Head-Royce School in Oakland CA.
By Kate Sippey
On April 19th, just over 300 high school students from 30 schools around the Bay Area traveled to Sacramento to meet with legislators about gun violence and common-sense gun laws. The students are part of a group called Bay Area Student Activists, or BAStA. The group was formed a month earlier with the purpose of unifying passionate, politically-minded high school students to lobby for causes they care about. The trip to Sacramento on the 19th was their first major initiative.
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The leaders of BAStA had a clear vision for this trip from the beginning. They noticed the passion that students demonstrated in the many successful school walk-outs and the March For Our Lives and wanted to provide an opportunity for student activism that built off of that passion. Student leader Zoë Benjamin says that she hopes that “every student involved feels like they do have a voice, and that they can make a difference, even if they can’t vote yet.” She also hopes that BAStA will create “a platform for student activists and a network of opportunities, so that students can more easily communicate and organize in the future”. Student leader Ruby Baden-Lasar is passionate about giving teenagers a platform and an opportunity to make a difference. She says that “although we cannot vote while we are in high school, that doesn’t mean that we don’t care deeply about these issues that affect our communities. The only way to really have our voices heard is to sit down with our elected legislators and have a meaningful conversation.”
BAStA will create “a platform for student activists and a network of opportunities, so that students can more easily communicate and organize in the future”. – Student Organizer Zoë Benjamin
BAStA has certainly accomplished their mission with this trip: the group was able to organize 40 meetings with legislators and the occasional staffer throughout the day. The students were split into lobbying groups of about ten, with each student given a specific role to play in the meeting, whether that be greeting and introduction, personal anecdotes, providing statistics, or explaining and advocating for specific bills.
Gun Violence Bills Lobbied for by California High School Students:
AB3: Firearms: age restrictions
AB222: Crime prevention and investigation: informational databases
SB-1200 Firearms: gun violence restraining orders.
AB-3129 Firearms: prohibited persons
Each student that went on the trip was able to attend at least two meetings, and some were even able to sit down and talk to the legislators that wrote the bills that they were lobbying for. Student Sammy Shrestha says that the group of students as a whole is largely defined by their “deep interest in these topics”, and described students discussing legislation with each other and volunteering to go office to office in the state building handing out BAStA flyers and talking to staffers.
At the end of the day, the students made speeches on the steps of the capitol building. They ranged from 15-year-old slam poet Samuel Getachew reading his viral poem “Gunshots on Her Birthday” to activist Jake Cohen speaking about the police violence and racial profiling that is rampant in our own communities. The speeches were inspiring, moving, and gave all the students present hope for both the future of BAStA and the future of our country. In the words of one student activist, “I am a patriot because I love this country enough to believe that we can do better.”