Students searching for solutions to gun violence
Western New York Congressman Brian Higgins met with a group of local, suburban high school students to discuss gun reform. WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley was allowed to listen-in to part of the session and talked with the students.
Students gathered around a large conference table inside the Congressman’s Larkin Exchange office in Buffalo. He met with them for nearly two-hours.
These students have been inspired to call for gun reform launched by teen survivors from Parkland, Florida school shootings.
“The main thing is to engage conversation – for first of all for politicians to know what their constituents are thinking and for us – they’re new voters in the upcoming mid-terms to know what our politicians are thinking as well,” stated Clarence High School junior Akilesh Ramakrishma.
“The why is the most important thing – it’s not what you do – it’s why you do it. We just have that vision. We’re not fixed on the solutions, we’re fixed on just getting there,” Ramakrishma explained
The students insist they're not asking to take away a citizen's second amendment right, but they are looking for reforms when it comes to assault weapons.
“We are not trying to take your guns away, but we are trying to inform you about what this debate is actually about,” Anna Engle, East Aurora High School senior said.
But they’re calls for gun reform is generating some backlash. “I have gotten actually quite a lot of backlash about it,” Engle explained.
Engle and East Aurora High School senior Georgia Vanderwater have experienced some difficult interactions in their gun reform fight.
"I think a lot of times people who opposes these issues, are really just looking to insult you,” Engle remarked.
“Walking down the street, you just need to avoid it, but other people come up directly to you to talk about it and it’s a matter of keeping your cool and just saying we are working toward a progressive future,” declared Vanderwater.
Higgins encourages the students not to give up, saying there will be no gun reform if lawmakers don't feel the pressure.
“Weapons of mass destruction are assault weapons. They are designed to kill people very quickly in large numbers. They’re not used for hunting. They’re not used for any sporting activity,” Higgins stated.
Students have created Students for Action and will host a forum Saturday, April 7, at St. Paul's Cathedral on Pearl Street in Buffalo at 1:30. Higgins will participate, but Congressman Chris Collins refuses to attend.
Congressman Collins spokesperson Sarah Minkel issued a statement saying Collins will not play into a “partisan trap,”
“It is progressive organizations like Indivisible.org and Citizens Against Collins that have co-opted this debate to spread misleading and false information to support their anti-2nd Amendment agenda. Rather than playing into a partisan trap, Congressman Collins will continue to focus on having productive discussions with his constituents about important issues currently facing our nation,” wrote Minkel, communications director.
“The only statement we’ve gotten was the one saying ‘the radical partisans have co-opted the Parkland tragedy’. I think his thing is that we are just puppets in this big orchestration and we’re just trying to push our political agenda,” replied Ramakrishma.
Students for Action have called out Collins in a short Twitter video. “Congressman Collins has reinforced his lack of responsibility and credibility,” stated a student in the video.