South Bay students rally against gun violence in hopes of change

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The issue of gun violence on school campuses is front and center in the South Bay. 

Between 80 and 100 students from Live Oak and Sobrato high schools marched roughly two-miles to Morgan Hill City Hall. Their goal is to take this message directly to local politicians who can influence change.

“I think it’s a really big issue and people need to be taking it more seriously because people are dying,” said Brianna Pember, a senior at Live Oak High School.

At midday, the quad at Morgan Hill City Hall was filled with students, and signs and vocal messages calling for change. Their hot button issue is the social issue vexing the country - gun violence - and how to enact sensible gun control legislation.

“High schoolers look around their class to see where they would run, if one day during a test their lab partner came in with a gun,” said one student at the rally, as she read from a poem.

Students in the Morgan Hill Unified School District are so distraught over a perceived lack of action, they took action Friday. Earlier in the day at both Sobrato and Live Oak high schools, a one-hour town hall-style meeting was held with local elected leaders from Santa Clara County, the city, and the school board.

“I would like to see more gun regulations. Because we need to start somewhere. And I think that if we regulate our guns a little bit more, that would make our community a lot safer,” said Amanda Sjolund, a senior at Sobrato High School, and one of the town hall organizers. Added co-organizer and fellow senior Zoie Wise, “So I figure if we keep saying it and we’re loud enough, then maybe someone will finally do something about it.”

A few hundred students left class to participate in the morning forum inside the Performing Arts Center. Their targets are set on reducing or removing so-called assault style weapons from the landscape. Early voting registration was offered so that once upper-class students turn 18, they can turn their physical voices into a strong voting block for change.

“They have the opportunity once they’re of voting age, to vote in the people they agree with. And vote out the people they don’t agree with,” said Mary Patterson, a Morgan Hill Unified School District school board trustee.

For many of these students who have never known a world free from mass shootings at schools, the path to legislative change leads to city hall, and beyond.

“We’re showing how serious we are, by coming out here,” said Live Oak High School sophomore Emily Pember.

The people who directly change gun laws were not at the town hall forum, or the city hall rally. So organizers say their next step is to take their concerns to the state capitol, and to Capitol Hill.