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Mount St. Mary Academy students hold gun violence forum

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WBFO News photo by Chris Caya
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More than two months after the Parkland, Florida school shootings, students in Buffalo and across the nation continue to demand action from their elected leaders.

Some students walked out of their classrooms Friday. But at Mount St. Mary Academy in Kenmore, students led a panel discussion on gun violence. They invited elected and community leaders to participate.

Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein addressed mental health issues associated with school shootings. She encouraged students to monitor the behavior of their friends.

"Many times, we think of depression as people walking around in a sad mood. But in teenagers, there are specific symptoms where they isolate themselves and do not engage in activities that they used to really enjoy," Burstein said.

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Credit WBFO News photo by Chris Caya
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Mount St. Mary students host school safety forum.

Former Buffalo Police Commissioner Gil Kerlikowske was another panelist. He told the students they are "very much" part of the future when it comes to enacting sensible gun control laws.

"The change that is occurring is happening at the state level," Kerlikowske said. "New York already has (laws) in place. So does California. And now Florida does, too. Again, it's very much because of your voices."

Democratic Congressman Brian Higgins said the common theme in so many mass shootings is they're being perpetrated by a young male armed with an assault weapon.

"When the framers of the Constitution established the second amendment, they never anticipated this kind of hell," Higgins said. "If they were around today, they would say to America let's do something about this. While they can't speak to us, the voices of young America are speaking to us. And we have an obligation to do something."

Republican Congressman Chris Collins of Clarence was invited to participate in the Mount St. Mary forum but was unavailable.