Hundreds in Basalt call for stricter gun control at ‘March for Our Lives’ rally |

Hundreds in Basalt call for stricter gun control at ‘March for Our Lives’ rally

Students lead a long line of participants in Basalt's March For Our Lives on Midland Avenue Saturday. Hundreds of similar rallies were held around the country.
Scott Condon/The Aspen Times

About 300 people snaked their way through the streets of Basalt on Saturday chanting “Not One More,” “We call BS. Gun Control Now” and “Never Again.”

The local crowd echoed the roar heard in Washington D.C. and around the country in hundreds of protests demanding stricter gun control measures.

Susan Mitchell, a Basalt mom of three young kids, organized the local version of March for Our Lives and hoped to attract 100 protesters. She was inspired that at least three times that many supporters converged at Lions Park in Basalt. The rally attracted scores of middle- and elementary-school students, their parents and numerous older folks. Mitchell, who spread word through social media, said she was even contacted by visitors.

“I have families here from Chicago and New York that are here on spring break,” she said. “People want to participate.”

“I will fight until adults do something, until they make my school a safe place to learn.” — Rose Foster, Carbondale Middle School student

Rose Foster, a seventh-grader at Carbondale Middle School, was one of the speakers at a rally before the march. She said she would risk getting detention from school as many times as necessary to walk out to protest gun laws. The action is worth it, she said, “as long as I am saving lives.”

“I will fight until adults do something, until they make my school a safe place to learn,” she said. “I can’t vote, so walk-outs and protests are all I have. Please listen to me and actually do something.”

Alexandra Gallegos, an eighth-grader at Carbondale Middle School, another speaker at the rally, said the lack of meaningful action on gun control is frustrating to her.

“Now you’re telling me teachers should have guns, too? No,” she said, eliciting a loud, drawn out “no” from the crowd.

Violent techniques can’t be used to conquer violence, Gallegos said.

“We need to find a peaceful way instead,” she said.

The long list of school shootings, punctuated by the death of 17 students at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Feb. 14, is having a chilling effect on many students.

“Parents and teachers used to tell me, ‘School is the safest place you can be,’” Gallegos said. “And every day I would go to school unafraid and happy knowing that nothing bad would happen to me, until this. I no longer feel safe at school and I bet my peers don’t feel safe, either.”

A group of Aspen Middle School students held a similar rally March 14 as part of the National Walkout Day. The Aspen High School student leaders are planning an event April 20, which is the anniversary of the 1999 Columbine High School shooting.

Mitchell had a specific list of gun control measures she proposed advocating for, and the crowd Saturday eagerly agreed. They included universal background checks and bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Another goal of the movement is to sign up people to vote in the mid-term elections, she said, getting a roar of approval from the crowd.

After a handful of speeches, including one by longtime Democratic Party activist and former Colorado First Lady Dottie Lamm, the crowd took to sidewalks along Midland Avenue, Cottonwood Drive and Two Rivers Road displaying signs and yelling chants promoting gun control.

Marcher Linda Maggiore of Glenwood Springs described herself as a mom, nurse and former school board member. She felt inspired by the march to produce a collective voice and force action.

She carried a sign that read: “Kids Act as Leaders. Leaders Act as Kids. Need a change.”

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