Local students lead gun violence movement with Students Against School Shootings group

Around 40 students make up a group called S.A.S.S: Students Against School Shootings. They've been leading the charge in planning local walkouts, registering people to vote and reaching out lawmakers to end gun violence in schools.

It's been about two weeks since the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Amidst the gun violence debate and survivors of the massacre coming forward with a call to change gun laws, some student in Iowa City are also speaking out and taking action in organizing a movement to prevent future school shootings.

For them, they cannot and will not let the memory of 17 victims fade away.

"Those names just pop into my's like I actually can't get rid of them even if i tried....but I don't want to," said Olivia Lusala, 16, a student at Iowa City High School.

"The classrooms look the same as ours, there's no real difference," said West High student Nick Pryor, 18. "Seeing that is like this can happen to us too."

"That's just not something a student should have to think about," said Lusala.

To speak up for those beliefs, these nine students organized walkouts at West and City High schools last week in Iowa City.

"Southeast Junior High was facilitating a walk out, so we wanted to join in and support them," said West High student Safeya Siddig, 18.

"It was really kind of thrown together last minute but in the most organized way possible in that short time span," said City High student Maya Durham, 17.

It became so much more.

"I looked back and it just went on and on, and i'm like, this isn't something that's just going to end here," said Lusala.

Now, around 40 students make up a group called S.A.S.S.: Students Against School Shootings.

"We have meetings with core members and that's kind of where things get decided," said Durham. "We're doing stuff like registering our peers to vote."

They are also staging future walkouts, writing to representatives, and getting more students active in sharing their stance on gun violence.

"To me the problem isn't necessarily that it takes you know 10 minutes to get this gunman under control instead of six. The problem is that we have a gunman in the first place," said Eden Knoop.

For them, that means demanding lawmakers bring back a ban on assault rifles.

"It's hard to end violence in total, but the assault weapons ban has prevented the sale of the weapon that's become the most common weapon," said Pryor.

"I think you kind of have to expect like some groups will always disagree with you, but i think it kind of motivates us to try harder," said City High student Victor Kalil.

These students believe Parkland is the turning point for getting young people engaged in making a difference.

"The best thing you can do is vote. The best thing you can do is run for office," said Durham.

SASS will be participating in March For Our Lives with a protest in Iowa City on March 24. They are also planning on visiting the capitol in Des Moines to speak with lawmakers in the coming months.

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