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Education

San Antonio Students March For Tighter Gun Control

Hundreds of people took to the streets of downtown San Antonio Saturday to call for more gun control.

It was one of about 800 protests scheduled worldwide in conjunction with a march in Washington D.C. organized by students who survived the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida last month.

The high school and college students who organized the San Antonio march had a message for lawmakers: Act on gun control or we’ll vote you out.

Sean Rivera, a student at the University of Texas at San Antonio, spoke to the crowd gathered at city hall to kick things off.

“Saying ‘don’t politicize this,’ especially coming from elected representatives, is a loosely veiled way of saying ‘don’t ask us to do anything about this’ and there’s zero ambiguity about that,” Rivera said.

Student organizers said they want Congress to pass a comprehensive gun control measure that includes closing background check loopholes at gun shows and online sales, a ban on semi-automatic weapons, mandatory training before purchasing a gun, and raising the minimum age for buying a gun to 21.

Carrying signs and chanting “vote them out” and “enough is enough,” the crowd marched from city hall to the Alamo.

L.E.E. High School student Erol Morgan, 16, said her school has had two lockdown drills since the Parkland shooting.

“We are talking about situations that we shouldn’t have to be imagining as students. We should be stressing out about AP exams and finals and prom,” Erol said. “I don’t think we should be taking away guns, or even limiting the sale of guns to that type of extent, but some regulation is necessary.”

She wants a ban on semi-automatic weapons.

Students from Health Careers High School in the Northside school district march for tighter gun control Saturday, March 24, 2018.
Credit Camille Phillips | Texas Public Radio
Students from Health Careers High School in the Northside school district march for tighter gun control Saturday, March 24, 2018.

“We’re tired of seeing kids shot, people dying,” said Health Careers High School student Jeffrey Vanegas. “I’m 17, but we’ll be voting soon. It’s important to see us out here, to see young people out here.

“My family’s never owned guns. We don’t feel like we need guns to be safe. I know a lot of people who feel that way, that they need guns to be safe, but they’re protecting themselves from others with guns.  It just doesn’t make a lot of sense.”

South San Antonio High School junior Melivia Mujica said she wanted tighter gun control to reduce all gun violence, not just mass shootings.

“I come from the Southside. There’s dating violence; there’s shootouts in my streets. I can hear the gunshots in my streets at night. And I don’t want to hear that anymore,” Melivia said.

She wants universal background checks to make sure people charged with domestic violence can’t buy guns.

Gun control activists gather to hear speakers talk outside the Alamo after a march Saturday, March 24, 2018.
Credit Camille Phillips | Texas Public Radio
Gun control activists gather to hear speakers talk outside the Alamo after a march Saturday, March 24, 2018.

At the Alamo, organizers reminded marchers to sign up to vote if they haven’t already done so.

Nearby, a few men held up T-shirts that looked like they might have been purchased at the Alamo gift shop, featuring a cannon and the Texas battle cry “Come and take it.”

A recent poll from the University of Texas and the Texas Tribune found that most Texans support closing background check loopholes at gun shows and over the Internet.

The same poll also found that young people are much more likely to support stricter gun control.

Camille Phillips can be reached at Camille@tpr.org or on Twitter @cmpcamille