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N.H. students rally for gun control six months after Parkland shooting

  • Laila Ruffin, a recent graduate of Concord High School, speaks during a rally at the State House in Concord on Wednesday. Ethan DeWitt Monitor staff

  • Jennifer White, a senior at Hopkinton, speaks before reporters at a press conference organized by high school students to speak out on gun violence, Aug. 15, 2018 Ethan DeWitt—Ethan DeWitt



Monitor staff
Wednesday, August 15, 2018

The headlines have faded, but New Hampshire student activists say they aren’t done pressing state and federal representatives on gun control after a yearslong increase in school shootings.

At a rally near the State House on Wednesday, several dozen high school students from across the state urged voters to keep the issue front and center, and for politicians to take action.

For many of them, the pleas were personal.

“Students like myself must now associate school with fear and dread, for extremely legitimate reasons,” said Jennifer White, a Hopkinton senior and a frequent organizer of similar demonstrations in past months.

Politicians should take their concerns seriously, she said.

“For many members of my generation, this year is only the beginning of a new era, of a generation that will never stop fighting for what they know is right, and can now carry that fight to the voting booth,” White said.

The rally came a day after the six-month anniversary of a mass shooting in Parkland, Fla., which left 17 dead and spurred a nationwide movement for gun control. In reference to that tragedy, which unleashed a flood of student activism at high schools, many at the podium said the ensuing months had offered an opportunity for reflection.

“As time has passed, we have all taken a step back,” said Laila Ruffin, a recent graduate of Concord High School. “Some of us have used this time to reflect on what took place before and following this event. Others have spent time thinking of solutions, solutions that could prevent occurrences such as this from ever happening again.”

Those solutions include getting the Legislature to pass universal background checks, red-flag laws and gun-free school zones, according to organizer Katie Henry, another Concord High graduate. An attempt by state Democrats to push through that latter proposal – through a late amendment to existing legislation – failed earlier this year after Republican senators argued allowing schools to determine their own gun policies could make them into targets by would-be gunmen.

On Wednesday, Henry said the fight isn’t over.

“Last year, students made their voices heard through rallies, marches, meetings and petitions,” she said. “In the new school year, we will continue this action, and this fall those of us that are old enough will be using our votes.”

The press conference was organized by students but facilitated by Granite State Progress, according to Zandra Rice-Hawkins, executive director of the state-wide advocacy organization.