Clinton, Giffords, students from Parkland and Chicago attend 25th anniversary of SF mass shooting

SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) - The Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence marked the 25th Anniversary of San Francisco's worst mass shooting, with an awards dinner Thursday night that remembered the victims and survivors of the tragedy. 

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave the keynote address and received a Courageous Leadership award from the Center. Students from Parkland and Chicago also were honored and gave speeches, talking about how gun violence had changed their lives. Former Congresswoman Gabby Gifford, herself a victim of gun violence, addressed the crowd and called for action. 

More than 800 people gathered to remember lives lost to gun violence. 

The event was held at the Hyatt Regency just two blocks away from the high rise at 101 California. 

On July 1, 1993, police rushed to the building where a former disgruntled client armed with an assault weapon opened fire at the Pettit and Martin law office on the 34th floor, killing 8 and wounding 6 before taking his own life. 

The survivors of that shooting shared the room Thursday night and a bond with other survivors and those who lost loved ones.

Kayla Schaefer and Olivia Wesch, two students from Parkland, Florida, asked for a moment of silence to remember the 17 people killed at their high school, exactly four months ago to the day.

"The glass blew up in the door and bullets hit four of my classmates, killing one," said Schaefer.

Their stories now are on a new video by the Giffords Law Center, calling for change. 

"Every day I contemplate if it's safe to step outside my house because I don't feel safe. I live every day like it's my last because I know what it feels like to feel like to believe you don't have any days left ahead of you," said Olivia Wesch, a Parkland student.

"It's so painful and heartbreaking to know that these are young people who were born long after the tragedy at 101 California Street and yet with all the positive change we have made, we still have these horrific school shootings," said Robyn Thomas, Executive Director of the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

Also present was Ke'Shon Newman, a student from the south side of Chicago, whose brother was shot nine times and killed in a random shooting, which still has not been solved. He talked about not feeling safe merely going to and from baseball practice. He also explained how summer time is the most dangerous and violent for youth in Chicago's South Side and how he and friends participate every year in a peace march. 

All of the students are too young to vote but old enough to speak out for change.

"Some of the things that happen in Chicago are happening because nobody has someone to be there for them or to listen to them, so they resort to violence or the streets. So counseling is something I'd like to see more of," said Newman. 

"We are not going to give up the fight. We are always going to fight for this subject because now it's a part of our lives," said Schaefer.

The students spoke and received a standing ovation. 

Wesch asked for a moment of silence to remember the friends lost four months to the day in the February 14th shooting in Parkland Florida.

At the end of the program, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took the stage and spoke.

"Our inaction on gun violence has deadly consequences, not only in lives lost, but in defining who we are. Are we people who care about each other? Are we parents who want to save all children not just our own?" Clinton asked, "Gun violence is preventable, it is not a pre-existing condition unless you think we are just fatalistically incapable for standing up for the majority of people in this country including to stand up for including gun owners who argue  for common sense gun measures." 

Also in attendance were Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, San Francisco Mayor-Elect London Breed, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, and former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown.

The Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence said in the 25 years since the 101 California shooting, they have helped to pass some 60 gun laws in California, many which are models for other states across the nation. 
 

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