SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Springfield high school students invited several city, state, and even national leaders to a town hall Thursday afternoon. The topic was gun violence.
The event was put together by students at Central High School. Their goal was to inspire change regarding gun control starting with their local communities.
Students gathered in the auditorium while some of their classmates stepped up to the mic and shared their opinions.
“I am told that a gun has more of a right to be in this world and I do,” said Lonni Helm, a CHS student.
Among those attending were Mayor Ken McClure, Councilwoman Phyllis Ferguson, State Representative Crystal Quade and state Senator Bob Dixon, and representatives from the offices of Senator Claire McCaskill and Congressman Billy Long.
Some students shared their experience when a gun accidentally went off in 2015 at Central. No one was hurt.
“Since then I have gone through in my head how to plan for what I would do if something were to happen and my school, my Central,” Helm said.
A few students pointed out the need for more mental health support.
“Our teachers, counselors, and administrators deserve to be armed and not with guns but with mental health resources and funding to help kids who are hurting,” said Bailey Carmichael.
One student suggested armed officers at schools and said more restrictions would only keep firearms from law abiding citizens.
“In my opinion, if we just try to limit the gun control, what’s going to happen is the businesses are going to go underground, and the criminals can still get [firearms],” said Ricky Herman.
Senior Class President, Ankit Jain, proposed a Red Flag Law, which would temporarily prohibit someone from purchasing or owning a gun if they are deemed a danger to themselves or others by family or law enforcement.
“No matter what side you’re on gun control it is undeniable that innocent lives can be saved,” said Carla Hemwi, a junior at CHS.
Some of the students are 18 years old and registered to vote. But others still 17 or younger, who say they will stay involved.
“My statement is simple, something needs to change,” said Amaya Holdt. “My promise to you is that the next generation will not stop pushing until we see that change.”
“Our society deserves the governing body that actually protects the interest in the lives of their citizens, rather than catering to special interests more concerned with cash in your pockets and corpses in our schools,” said Carmichael.
At the end of the town hall, students thanked lawmakers and area leaders for attending and listening and asked them to seriously consider the ideas suggested by students.
“Today more than ever, I am proud to be a Bulldog and I hope all of you are, too,” said Emma Dawson, Student Body President.