, , , , , ,

Yesterday evening the March for Our Lives movement hosted a town hall at the Reardon Convention Center on Minnesota Avenue in Kansas City, Kansas, one of fifty or so stops in their Summer voter registration and activation Road to Change bus tour. Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, from Chicago, from St. Louis, and from the Kansas City metro area joined the town hall panel.

There was a large number of volunteers tasked to help usher the anticipated crowd and to register voters. Media estimates of the attendance ranged from “hundreds” up to 1500. Before the town hall started the partition to an adjacent hall was opened to accommodate the overflow crowd.

Speaking to the media before the town hall:

Kyrah Simon.

Cameron Kasky.

After the town hall panelists introduced themselves the moderators, Alfonso Calderon and Quinn Patel, addressed questions about voting, activism, and gun violence in schools.

“…the problem with gun violence in America is that dangerous people are acquiring guns, so being able to prevent dangerous people from acquiring guns […] is really important…”

Barry Smith and Kyrah Simon.

“…the National Rifle Association, uh, they, for, for so, for so long they, they have been this group that has been very helpful in teaching people proper gun ownership, uh, responsible gun ownership, and just very well how to use a rifle, a handgun […] and for that, that’s amazing. We need that in our society because our laws do not reflect that. And when our laws try to reflect that in recent years the National Rifle Association has gone against that. They have gone against various measures like, uh, safe gun storage laws and various things like, uh, they have gone for conceal carry reciprocity which I know on paper sounds very good. But, when you look into it, around the third paragraph of conceal carry reciprocity they have a provision that says you are allowed to open carry in school zones. Which, last time I checked is not a very safe thing and it’s not a very responsible thing for anybody to be touting a firearm in that sort of situation. [applause]…”

Kyrah Simon, Cameron Kasky, Ryan Deitsch, and Rachel Gonzalez.

Arianna Williams (center).

April Ma, Anthony Lovelace, and Arianna Williams.

Kyrah Simon, Cameron Kasky, and Ryan Deitsch.

Rachel Gonzalez and Taylor Mills.

The moderators then asked for questions addressed to the panel from the audience.

“…With the expansion of universal background checks in private sales we can, which can stop a lot of guns from illegally being purchased, people will say that bad guys will still have a chance to get guns. And the nasty, filthy, depressing rhetoric behind that is that if we can’t stop all illegal gun sales we shouldn’t even try to stop any. That bothers me. [applause] Another is that people, people who talk a lot about illegal gun sales being traced back to the criminals, but criminals don’t manufacture guns. And more and more guns are being legally manufactured and being pumped out. And like our friends from Chicago discussed, they are being legally purchased at bulk and then illegally sold. If we’re not going to stop them at their source, certain, certain, we’re not going to stop certain guns at their source they will continue to be illegally sold. There will be more and more out there in the market. [applause]…”

Cameron Kasky, Ryan Deitsch, and Rachel Gonzalez.

“…We can’t fall into this, this thing of letting it become the norm. This conversation of just saving lives should not be a conversation. So that’s why it’s so important to vote. But not just vote, vote for the right people that will represent you. As I said earlier, if they’re taking millions of dollars, thousands of dollars from people that don’t look like you or come from where you come from, they cannot represent you. So stop letting these things become the norm. Because once e, they become the norm we stop asking questions about it. We stop questioning them like, whoa, is it okay for fifty-seven people enjoying themselves at a concert to be killed or seventeen students in Florida to be killed on Valentines Day or kids in Chicago like Tray’s mother who once played the bass in church at a church to get killed? We cannot let that be the norm. So, again, and I’m sorry we got to endure something like that. As Americans we should be ashamed that we live in a country that’s allowed that to happen. [applause]…”

Taylor Mills.

Alfonso Calderon and Quinn Patel.

Quinn Patel.

The town hall was scheduled to start at 6:00 p.m. It ended around 8:30 p.m., with the panelists inviting the audience to come up and continue the conversation.