MARION, Iowa (CBS 2/ FOX 28) — First, students across the country marched for their lives. Now, they are bringing lawmakers together in town hall meetings to discuss solutions to stop gun violence.
Students at Linn Mar High School in Marion organized their own version of "Town Hall for Our Lives," which was one of the hundreds of town halls organized on Saturday by students all over the country.
They invited state legislators and candidates for office from all parties to attend and discuss their vision on what can be done to end gun violence at school and in other parts of the community.
"Our children and teachers are dying. We must make it a top priority to save these lives," said Linn Mar student and town hall organizer Kevin Drahos, 18.
"I will fight for my safety as long as I'm a student, even after I'm a student to help save other students," said student Eritrea Ande, 18, who is also an organizer for the town hall.
11 state leaders and candidates accepted invitations to attend and nearly all democratic. However, students said they were pleased with being able to bring together as many voices as they could in the two weeks they had to plan this event.
"I feel like that today I feel like we could have a discussion with the people who are actually making the laws," said student Lara Gavin, 18, who is also an organizer for the town hall.
Almost every member on stage and in the room could agree on one thing.
"I support the second amendment," said Dr. Eric Gjerde, Candidate for District 67. "But I also support common sense gun legislation in the state of Iowa."
A representative for Republican Congressman Rod Blum said protecting students can start with funded measures that increase security at schools like the congressional STOP school violence act.
"If we could fix at least security in our schools tomorrow, one way we could do that is put a metal detector and some security guards in front of every school, we could fund that tomorrow," he said.
At the local level, leaders say implementing stronger background checks, and high risk holds on firearms could save lives.
"For folks who are in crisis and should really not be in possession of a firearm at that time," said Representative Liz Bennett.
"Those things won't solve all of our problems, but it will solve some of them," said Thomas Heckroth, candidate for the 1st district. "And they will make sure that its no longer 33,000 Americans that die each year, and will start bringing that number down."
Lawmakers and students agree gun violence is more than just access to guns and concerns over semi-automatic rifles.
"We can also make sure that there are crisis centers for our mental health, make sure that in our schools there are enough counselors that we have access to psychologists," said Representative Art Staed.
Even in addressing a need for change, students still said it is up to young people to continue to hold their leaders accountable in the fight for their lives.
"I think the main thing is acting on it, and that doesn't come from rallies or marches. It comes from voting," said Gavin.
Republican Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst were invited to attend the town hall but told students they were unavailable on Saturday. Empty chairs were set up for some leaders invited that did not attend.