Bay Area mourns victims of Florida school shooting
MILL VALLEY, Calif. - In the North Bay, about 50 people attended a Thursday evening vigil for the massacre victims of Parkland, Florida.
"We say time's up on easy access to firearms," student Jake Cohen said, addressing the crowd gathered in front of Tamalpais High School in Mill Valley.
Students expressed sorrow and anger as they tied on orange arm-bands, the color of the anti gun-violence movement.
They lit and held candles, and listed all seventeen of the victims' names on a poster.
Most of the Tam students were not even born when the Columbine massacre happened 19 years ago, but they say campus shootings have been part of growing up.
"It's the time for remembrance and prayer, emotion and good thoughts," said vigil organizer and student Elissa Asch, " but then we want to act."
Organized as the group Tam Students Against Gun Violence, students hope to help stem gun violence however they can.
The vigil grew from discussions that happened spontaneously during the school day, and as the community joined in, ideas were shared across generations.
"This is only the symptom of a greater problem," one young man declared, speaking to a couple old enough to be his grandparents.
"Your approach sounds like a very good idea," encouraged another adult. Several speakers took turns at the microphone.
"I thought where will I go to mourn, where am I going to find community support," said parent Jennifer Taylor, of the group Moms Demand Action.
"And I couldn't be more proud of our students to organize this."
Student Zoey Winn chimed in, "We have to start now. Don't just sit back and mourn, take that pain and make a difference."
In Novato, the Police Chief issued a community letter in response to what he called "tragedies that have become too routine, without an end in sight."
Chief Adam McGill notes gun reform is a polarizing issue, mired in politics.
"We've all gone to our corners, so to speak, and we're drawing sides," he told KTVU.
Still, McGill says there are prevention steps everyone can take.
"We're all police officers. You happen to pay us to do a job professionally for you, but we're all responsible for co-producing public safety."
McGill says invariably, there are warning signs that emerge after a mass killing, but if people are aware and report the odd comment, or the troubled behavior, they can head off a tragedy.
"I would not want to live with the regret that will never go away, if I could have prevented a school shooting, or some other mass violence," said McGill, "I wouldn't want to live with that regret."
At the vigil, parents with younger children in tow said they could no longer stay on the sidelines of gun reform.
"It's not happening on its own," Karen Ripenburg told KTVU, as she kissed her 6 and 8 year old daughters.
"I can't send my little people off to school each day with 'Okay I hope you don't die today.' It's just not acceptable."
Teenagers, lining the school steps with candles, said their future depends on keeping guns out of the wrong hands.
"Our right to get an education, our right to survive a day at school, outweighs your right to own a gun," declared student Jake Cohen, wrapping up the vigil.
Friday after school, at 2:45, students invite the community to join them for a march to the Mill Valley Community Center, about a half mile away.
Tamalpais and Douglas High Schools are similar, in that they are high-achieving public schools located in affluent, low-crime communities.