Aspen Student Protests: Marching to save their lives
Aspen High students will walkout April 19 to protest gun violence on Columbine anniversary
APRIL 19 PROTEST Here is a tentative schedule for Friday’s protest put on by Aspen High School students: 10-11 a.m.: Walk from Aspen High School to Paepcke Park 11-11:10: Introduction/Speech at gazebo Speaker: Emily Driscoll or Zoe Cramer 11:10-11:20: Speech about Safety History Speaker: Law enforcement speaker 11:20-11:30: Performance and Petitions Performer: Alex Coleman 11:30-11:40: Faculty Speech Speaker: Teacher TBD 11:40-11:50: Speech Speaker: Tullis Burrows 11:50-noon: City Speech Speaker: Possible City Council rep 12-12:10: Closing remarks Speaker: Emily or Zoe 12:15: Return to school Walk back to high school for free BBQ and petition signing (Schedule is subject to change)
COLUMBINE HIGH VICTIMS Students Cassie Bernall, 17 Steven Curnow, 14 Corey DePooter, 17 Kelly Fleming, 16 Matthew Kechter, 16 Daniel Mauser, 15 Daniel Rohrbough, 15 Rachel Scott, 17 Isaiah Shoels, 18 John Tomlin, 16 Lauren Townsend, 18 Kyle Velasquez, 16 Teacher William “Dave” Sanders, 47 Note: The shooters, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, were students at Columbine and died by suicide after the shooting.
EDITOR’S NOTE: With student protests happening at Aspen High School on April 20, the anniversary of the Columbine High shooting, the Aspen Times Weekly asked students at AHS to give their thoughts on the recent protests and school violence.
March Organizer, Senior
On April 20, 19 years ago, millions of students around the country went to school. Twelve students and one teacher in a little school in Colorado never returned home. The Columbine shooting was a historic event for Colorado, a tragedy no one should ever endure. Yet, since that fateful day, there have been 270 school shootings. How many kids have to die before the government steps in? The students of Aspen High School are walking out April 20 to advocate for our own safety. We are showing the government we won’t stand down and we want change.
Momentum is key to any movement. There have been several walkouts and protests this year. We are sending the next wave of activists to protest. One big event can stir up temporary emotion and rage, but in time, the emotions die off and nothing is changed. I’m hoping continued actions will force the government to make change.
Our school doesn’t have school bells. Why? Administration thinks it’s treating us like dogs. What does arming teachers and adding metal detectors do? Turns students into prisoners. I have no interest in high levels of security; I want to reduce the threat.
No student should be afraid to go to school. Child safety should be a non-negotiable. The fact children have to rebel against the government for basic safety regulations in a school environment makes me sick. If the federal government does nothing, then hopefully state or local governments will stand up and do what is morally responsible and what they were elected and hired to do.
We are walking out for school safety; we are walking out to honor Columbine; we are walking out to show the government they aren’t doing the job we need them to do; we are walking out for what we deserve. We stand here to tell our government we are not OK with our lack of response. We want change and we want it now.
VOTE THEM OUT
By Tullis Burrows
Skier Scribbler staff writer, Sophomore
In the past several weeks, the youth of this nation have collectively decided to abandon their apathy and take a stand against gun violence, and the cycle of corruption that perpetuates it. Where other generations have chosen to remain silent and offer nothing in the way of resolution but thoughts and prayers, we have sought legal retribution for the lives that have been lost.
The fact that the United States’ stance on gun violence can internationally be classified as less than stringent is no closely guarded secret. In fact, the proliferation of gun violence in the U.S. has become so atrocious that we are the butt of countless jokes both abroad and at home. Almost everyone harbors some stereotype of the classic obese, gun-toting American, so filthy with ignorance that the potent stench can be identified from miles away. However, these stereotypes exist for a reason. It seems as though every single month countless innocent people are brutally slaughtered. In 2015, there was a mass shooting for nearly every single day of the year. In addition, the lethality of mass shootings has consistently increased since the 1980s, in part due to the expiration of the assault weapons ban in 2004.
After decades of indiscriminate killing made easy by the ridiculous lack of laws and regulations on the industry, you would think the government would take action on this issue. Protecting its citizens is one of its key purposes, after all. However, this is not the case. The corporate interests that plague our democracy have once again reared their ugly heads from the halls of Congress. The NRA, arguably the most successful lobbying group in our modern political arena, has once again flexed its green paper muscles. The NRA represents the interests of gun manufacturers, however they masquerade as representatives of the people and their rights. Days after the March for our Lives, where millions of Americans took to the streets in order show their elected representatives that we would not stand for their inaction anymore, the NRA pumped millions of dollars into the halls of Congress in order to “preserve the Second Amendment.”
It’s time that we the people of the United States of America reclaim our democracy and begin the long process of finding justice for those who have been killed, not through conviction and punishment of those who perpetrated it, but through the democratic removal of those who condone it.
WAKE UP, ACT … CALL YOUR REPRESENTATIVE
By Jordan Fox
Skier Scribbler Editor-in-Chief, Senior
On Valentine’s Day, rather than celebrating our loved ones, we all watched the chilling screams of people deciding whether it was safer to run or remain crouched in the nearest classroom. We were horrified to see people sending messages to their loved ones in case they never saw them again. How many more mass shootings can we stomach before we decide to implement real gun control?
In truth, the world doesn’t need another opinion article about the Parkland shooting. No one needs to read another story ridiculing the easy access to guns in the United States or talk about how we should have learned this time. It’s true we should have known better. Very little has changed since the horrifying massacre at Columbine in 1999, and yet we are still looking around for a scapegoat, while the answer looms directly in front of us: It is time we all come together for the common safety of the people and create legislation ensuring that guns don’t get into the wrong hands.
The gun control debate has gone on long enough, and all we have done is dug ourselves into our respective camps and gotten further and further away from a consensus. The people affected by the Parkland shooting and others like it should not have to deal with the actions of a gunman for the rest of their lives, but they will. We should not need to take another moment of silence; we should not need to lower our flags yet again, but here we are. Very little has changed.
We do so many things out of respect of tragedies, but we rarely do anything to prevent them. In the wake of such a tragedy, it is only natural to grieve and support the affected people in any way we can. Some people have used this time to demand stricter gun control laws, while others have demonized them for politicizing the event, stating that the tragedy occurred too recently to start pushing different agendas. We must push; we must take action; we must prevent another tragedy.
I originally wrote this article about the Las Vegas shooting back in October, and the saddest part is that it is still just as relevant now. All I had to do between then and now was change the name of the massacre. In fact, there have been 33 mass shootings in the two months since Parkland, according to shootingtracker.com. If now isn’t the right time to demand change, then when is? How much longer are we going to let the NRA and gun-loving people hinder our ability to stop future tragedies with misguided fear? Most Americans actually support basic gun control legislation such as universal background checks, banning assault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines, and permit requirements for gun ownership, so now is the time call your representatives and demand change to make a safe America for all. We can only hope that this time America will decide to wake up and act.
YOU CAN’T STOP US NOW
By Aja Schiller
Skier Scribbler staff writer, Freshman
The definition of a mass shooting is when an active shooter injures or kills four or more people. Between 1999 and 2012 America saw 31 school shootings. Just in 2018 alone there has been 19 mass school shootings and 45 mass shootings combined (as of April 7).
On April 20 in 1999, one of the most recognized school shootings happened in Columbine High School in a Denver suburb when 12 students, a teacher and the two student gunmen died. This past Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, a shooter entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida and killed 17 people, staff members and students combined. After the shooting, many students from across the nation have begun advocating for stricter gun regulations. There have been a few different nationwide walkouts organized. Walkouts are when students leave school at a set time and don’t return or return after a certain amount of time. The point of these walkouts is to call attention to the lack of gun control in America.
The first national walkout was March 14, marking the one-month anniversary of the Florida shooting. Students left school at 10 a.m. local time and did not return for 17 minutes to honor the 17 lives lost in the Florida shooting. Aspen Middle School students hosted a march that day and walked to Paepcke Park after school.
Cameron Kaskey, a junior who goes to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, has teamed up with his fellow students after the shooting and is taking a stand against the National Rifle Association and the gun regulations in America. Kasky is also a founder of the #NeverAgain movement on Twitter, which calls out lawmakers to introduce stricter gun laws and background checks for people who are looking to buy a gun.
“My message for the people in office is: You’re either with us or against us,” Kasky said in a CNN interview after the Florida shooting. “We are losing our lives while the adults are playing around.” Kasky has spoken with senators after the shooting and advocates against the NRA. “Sen. Rubio, can you tell me right now that you will not accept a single donation from the NRA?” When Rubio averted the question, Kasky brought the attention back to his initial question, calling out the Florida senator.
The second protest day was March 24. Students organized the “March for Our Lives” in Washington, D.C. Like the walkout on March 14, the purpose is to call attention to gun laws and raise awareness about mental health help for students.
The third protest will take place 19 years after the Columbine shooting. On April 20, students across the nation will be walking out of school and not returning until Congress places stricter gun laws and provides better mental health services for troubled students. New announcements are being made on the National School Walkout Twitter (@schoolwalkoutus).
Local Student Senate is organizing for AHS to participate in the walkouts that are happening. Student Senate is also doing a handwritten letter campaign.
Lane Murdock lives about 20 minutes away from Sandy Hook Elementary school. She was inspired by civil rights demonstrations in the 1960s and Mahatma Gandhi’s protests and put the recent protests in motion. Murdock is 15 and attends Ridgefield High School in Connecticut. For her school, the Florida shooting event was announced over the loudspeaker.
“People were talking during the announcement,” Murdock said in an interview with the Hartford Courant. “We were numb because this is so normal.”
After the shooting, Murdock wrote and uploaded a petition to Change.org that now has almost 250,000 signatures. Murdock is also a founder of the National School Walkout Twitter, which offers schools an opportunity to register their walkouts. A multitude of other schools have formed their own walkouts throughout the next few months. They all have one major thing in common: They are advocating for stricter gun laws.
Walmart, L.L. Bean, and Dick’s Sporting Goods have changed their gun regulations in response to the movement that is sweeping over the country. Different larger companies are now moving to disassociate themselves from the NRA, and that seems to be just the beginning of the gun control movement.
“You can’t stop time,” Lane Murdock stated in a tweet. “You can’t stop a whole generation from growing up. You can’t stop our passion. Or our takeover. You can’t stop the movement. You can’t stop us.”
WE ARE MARCHING FOR OUR LIVES
By Maeve McGuire
Skier Scribbler staff writer, Sophomore
“There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about what happened to me here in Colorado — or any of the victims or family of the victims. I plead with my fellow Americans — don’t wait for it to happen to you,” said Marcus Weaver, a survivor of the Aurora shooting.
On July 20, 2012, a shooter walked into a movie theater in Aurora and killed 12 people and injured 70 others. Weaver recalled his horror from that night and spoke about the impression it has left on his life at the March for Our Lives in Denver last month.
The March for Our Lives — led, organized and directed entirely by students — took place all across the nation on March 24. This march was one of the largest protests ever held in Denver, surpassing the 100,000 people at the Women’s March in 2017. Protesters marched around downtown Denver, seeking to bring attention to the gun violence currently taking place in the United States.
In Colorado, on April 20, 1999, 12 students and a teacher were shot and killed in a shooting at Columbine High School. Tom Mauser, whose son Daniel died in the Columbine shooting, spoke about the effects that horrible experience had on their community:
“After such a tragic event, our whole community came together to grieve and mourn. I felt more connected to my neighbors than I ever had before. However, there was no large call to attention for gun reform or action from politicians. It’s amazing to see what the students from Florida have been able to accomplish today, and I believe this is Colorado’s delayed reaction from the Columbine and Aurora shootings.”
Brooke Engel, a senior at a local Denver high school, also spoke about Colorado’s relevance and importance in this discussion.
“It’s amazing that we have such a large turnout today, especially with Colorado’s history. It’s important to remember and never forget the Columbine and Aurora shootings, and this is a perfect opportunity to honor those lives lost. So that’s who I’m marching for today,” Engel said in her speech.
The current Republican Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner’s involvement with the NRA was another significant issue addressed by protesters. A plane flew across the sky with a banner reading: “3.8M from NRA! Who does Cory Gardner work for?”
With no sight of Gardner and little recognition from local politicians, protesters began to chant, “Where is Gardner? Where is Gardner?” and “Vote them out! Vote them out!”
Coni Sanders — a daughter of Dave Sanders, the teacher who died in the Columbine shooting — also spoke about these politicians’ fear of losing financial funding from the NRA.
“They (politicians) have nothing on this crowd because they are only fighting for a paycheck. We are fighting for our lives. And today, we’re scaring them. However, their fear of losing money doesn’t even come close to our fear of being shot,” Mauser said.
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