Parkland shooting survivor speaks at Lyman

Victoria Bresnahan – News Editor
Tamonda Griffiths – News Writer

Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg, one of the co-founders of March for Our Lives— which was a youth-led protest against gun violence—spoke at the Lyman Center last week.

“We are the mass shooting generation,” said Hogg, during the event Hogg shared “lessons” with the audience concerning how to be activists. He said they should never pushing for change to happen “We in this room have a chance to stand up and speak out against violence and injustice for those who no longer can,” he said.

It is the job of the American people, he said, to fight and vote against corruption. For younger generations, their job is to make the first question on a politician’s mind, “how is this going to affect the next generation that comes after me,” said Hogg.

President of the College Republicans Sarah O’Connor stood outside the Lyman Center to represent an organization called EmPOWERed, which advocates for women to exercise their Second Amendment and to be able to carry on college campuses.

O’Connor said as a college student, she respects the movement Hogg is a part of but does not believe he should be the face of it.

“I don’t like the fact that he is traveling the country speaking, and making money off of a tragedy,” said O’Connor. “That, that’s not a party thing, that’s not a party issue, that’s a moral issue.”

Discussing gun violence is not complaining, he said, it is about fixing it so it no longer has to be discussed.

Hogg said through voting and continuing the fight in local communities it could lead to a “macro-level change.”

“Are we going to be the generation to stand up and end gun violence,” he said, “so that future generations no longer have to live with millions of people with PTSD and injuries from gunshot wounds and gun incidents?”

Hogg said he has learned the source of fear in this country stems from an anxiety of the unknown. Education, he said, can act as a “vaccine against violence.”

“Education is the best way to stop violence,” he said. “Education is the best way to create this change and stop people from fearing what they don’t know.”

More awareness could be focused on what Republicans are doing when it concerns gun rights and the pro-Second Amendment movement, she said.

Everyone, O’Connor said, should have the right to protect themselves– especially women.

As a young woman on a college campus she said she does not feel safe traveling around downtown New Haven.

According to O’Connor, in Connecticut certain tasers are banned from use, as well as there being regulations on the length of a knife a person is allowed to carry for protection.

“I know I’m 5 foot 2,” said O’Connor, “if I had a knife I would not be able to defend myself properly.”

According to two OLR Research Reports published 2007 and 2012 respectively, Connecticut state law classifies certain knives and “electronic defense weapons” as dangerous weapons making them illegal from someone to carry on their person or in their vehicle.

She said she knows what it’s like to be “a sitting duck.”

“We all know that it takes more than five minutes for police to show up on any crime, give or take,” said O’Connor. “In that five, it takes milliseconds to shoot a gun.”

Justin Gendron, President of the College Democrats, said his organization did not host a table event because he wanted to focus on Hogg’s message.

“I believe this shouldn’t be a partisan event, this should be a bipartisan, this should be – everyone should be listening to this person who has an experience like this,” said Gendron. “I came here for Joe Biden, I listened to him as well; if you know someone like – if Dick Cheney came, I would listen to him too just because I want to learn.”

Gendron said while he does support the College Republicans’ First Amendment right to free speech he did not find their table “classy.”

Gendron said in going to the event he hoped to learn more about Hogg planned to “fight this gigantic battle against the NRA.”

“We hear about a tragedy and then two weeks later, it’s gone from the news,” said Gendron. “I think now, we’ll kind of see the steady stream of ‘hey, we need to do something.

Photo Credit: August Pelliccio

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