OKLAHOMA CITY – “We value the second amendment. It’s very instrumental in our creation, but we want to make sure that guns don’t end up in the hands of bad people,” said 17-year-old student Doran Walters.
Around 4,000 people attended March For Our Lives last year. This Saturday, they are protesting at the capitol again and asking residents to join them in their fight.
“We feel like we needed to have this march again, even though it’s not happening nationally, we felt it was necessary in Oklahoma,” Walters said.
Specifically, they want more stringent background checks, raising the minimum age to carry a rifle to 21 and more funding for mental health studies to research what causes a shooter to act.
“A lot of the past and recent mass shootings that have happened, especially in schools, have happened from 18-year-olds that have mental illnesses that have gone and past,” said Emma Lane, freshman student and organizer for the march.
The organizers said they started planning for the event before House Bill 2597 passed, a bill that allows anyone over 21 and military members over 18 to carry a firearm without a permit. While they do say it’s a factor for why they are rallying at the capitol this year, it’s much bigger and more personal than that.
“You know 16-year-olds will be voting in 2020 and, so, to discount what their opinions are and what their outlooks is on issues is going to do them a real disservice,” said Emma’s mother, Laura Stringer.
24-year-old State Representative Kyle Hilbert is a proponent of many gun laws but said he’s happy to see young people speaking out.
“As legislators, we need to hear from people of all ages and all backgrounds on the issues that are important to them because we each represent about 37,000 constituents and we can’t do our job if we’re not hearing from them,” Hilbert said.
March For Our Lives Oklahoma is at 11 a.m. Saturday at the state capitol.