Teenage activists plan march on St. Pete, 3,000 expected to attend rally for better gun laws

Posted at 10:57 PM, Mar 19, 2018

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Dozens of students weren’t studying for tests Monday night, they were meeting to discuss logistics, whether their permits were in order, and what their message will be for a march to honor the victims of the Parkland shooting.

“Yes we are kids but we are passionate,” Sophia Landa an 11th grader at Countryside High School said. “They see us as young and inexperienced. But, I think we are young driven and determinant we are the youth of this generation.”

Landa said she never thought about gun control before the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. She said she has friends that lost friends during the shooting. The reality for her is that she is scared her school could be next, or a friend’s school. Her classmates and people she just met from high schools across Pinellas County feel the same way.

“I feel as a nation we have a problem with gun violence,” Emily Handsel a junior at Palm Harbor University High School said. “And, if no one else is going to step up and do it students like us need to.”

The students want comprehensive gun reform, more specifically a ban on assault-style rifles. Three weeks ago members from the 16 high schools across Pinellas County met to talk about what they could do. On Monday, they were putting the final touches on making sure all of their permits for the march were in order, any fees were paid, and that they had adequate security for everyone attending the march.

The students also formed a non-profit called 'We The Students, Inc.' They admit, all of it is intimidating and they are in uncharted territory but feel obligated to do something.

“This happened and it was catastrophic to a lot of students my age,” Kayla Dixon an 11th grader at Countryside High School said. “Especially, seeing the students who had survived speak out and become so brave about it, it gave a lot of hope that hey we have a voice too. And, we should be supporting them because God forbid that happen at my school.”

The march will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Ponyter Park in Downtown St. Petersburg.