Spokane Valley students push to reform gun laws, met with opposition

Spokane Valley students didn’t get their lessons from a textbook on Friday, instead they learned from each other.

University and Central Valley High School students ditched their desks, picked up signs, and gathered at Terrace View Park Friday morning to join a nationwide walkout to protest gun violence. A small group of students also walked out of class at 10:00 a.m. with a call to protect gun owner rights.

Event organizer and Central Valley junior Shaundra Russell pushed for more mental health resources at schools during her speech Friday.

“Psychologists, therapists and social workers should be available in all schools to help identify and support families who are struggling,” Russell said.

Pleas for change between the two groups clashed during speeches. Counter protestors started chanting “keep our guns” while a student speaker criticized current gun laws. The larger group of activists responded by chanting “love trumps hate.” The event didn’t turn violent, despite vocal opposition between the two groups.

Central Valley High School junior Trent Carlton was part of the counter protestors at the event. He proudly wore a shirt with the words make white men great again on it. Carlton explained that he was there to promote the Second Amendment and promote the “alt-right.”

“I think they are going about the idea of school safety in all the wrong ways. I believe if we can get armed veterans and armed teachers in every school, then we will be much safer than we are now,” Carlton said.

That was not the popular opinion during the Spokane Valley gathering. Central Valley High School sophomore Tyler Todd shared an open letter to address concerns about stricter gun control.

“You say your rights don’t end where our feelings begin, but in reply, I ask where your feelings begin, because if they do not begin with dozens of children being gunned down in a place that was once called safe, I must call your sanity into question,” Todd said.

University High School junior Kohl Gerber emphasized that he and other students will continue their activism beyond Friday to create the change they’re working for.

“We are the future. We know we are the future and it’s our job to bring attention to the problems of the current world,” Gerber said. “It’s not about your age. It’s not about your gender. It’s not about your race. It’s not about your class. It’s about people. It’s about humans. It’s about humanity and about where we go next.”