Gun violence prompts student rallies at schools in Nevada
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Hundreds of students at several Nevada schools walked out of classes Wednesday to mark the one-month anniversary of a shooting at a high school in Florida and to call for lawmakers to act to curb gun violence.
In Las Vegas, home to the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, more than 350 students rallied on the steps of the city's oldest high school with signs reading "Enough is Enough," ''Save the Future, Not Your Guns," and chanted, "NRA, Stay Away."
Tanya Abarico, a Las Vegas Academy of the Arts junior, remembered that 58 people died at an outdoor Las Vegas Strip music concert on Oct. 1, and said students want policies and reform, not thoughts and prayers.
"It is our lives that are being affected," she said. "We never want to know what it's like to hear gunshots at our school and to have to run and hide for our lives."
Academy student body President Darian Fluker invoked shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado in 1999, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut in 2012 and the Feb. 14 shooting that killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
"We said it after Columbine, we said it after Sandy Hook, and we're now saying it after Parkland," Fluker said. "The change that we have needed to see hasn't come ... but I'm optimistic that it's on its way."
In Reno, hundreds of Wooster High students chanted, "We want peace," as they marched several blocks to a U.S. Post Office to deliver letters they wrote to their members of Congress demanding action to combat gun violence.
Senior student Ann Snelgrove said politicians who are influenced by the gun lobby and oppose expanded background checks for gun buyers are on the wrong side of history.
"Can't you hear the children scream?" Snelgrove asked during a speech outside the post office.
More than 100 of the students jammed inside the post office to mail their letters while carrying signs that read, "Stop protecting guns and start protecting kids," and "The NRA kills kids."
Freshman Lily Crano carried a sign referencing the mass shooting in Florida that read, "They could be us."
"If they don't hear us now, they're deaf," she told an Associated Press reporter.
School district administrators in Las Vegas endorsed pre-approved campus demonstrations as appropriate student expressions of opinion, but said those who missed 30 minutes of class could be marked for an unexcused absence and lose eligibility for after-school sports and activities for the day.
Some schools hosted student assemblies inside. Clark County School District police Capt. Ken Young declined to say how many campuses had demonstrations but said events that were held were peaceful.
A demonstration was also planned at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where Annette Magnus, leader of the statewide progressive group Battle Born Progress, criticized state Attorney General Adam Laxalt for not enacting a gun buyer screening law that won voter approval in November 2016.
Laxalt hosted a conference Tuesday for law enforcement agents, security experts, educators and school administrators to talk about ensuring school safety and responding to threats.
"By working together and creating a forum to share thoughts and experiences, we can help prevent crises and respond effectively to disasters as they unfold," he said in a statement.
Sandoval hosted a meeting Monday with state and local school officials about campus and student safety.
Sonner reported in Reno.