DENVER (AP) — Thousands of people of all ages demonstrated Saturday in support of gun control in Denver and around Colorado as part of the nationwide “March for Our Lives” rallies.
People packed into Civic Center Park near the state Capitol to listen to relatives of people killed in the 1999 Columbine High School shooting, including gun control advocate Tom Mauser.
They also heard from Maddie King, a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the scene of a shooting last month that left 17 people dead.
After the talks, demonstrators spilled onto the streets of downtown Denver carrying signs that read, “The Second Amendment Needs Amending” and “Prayers are Not Enough”.
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The crowd included a contingent of students from Columbine, parents pushing strollers and several hundred Montessori teachers and administrators holding their convention in Denver.
Demonstrations were also held in Fort Collins, Grand Junction, Basalt and Colorado Springs, where U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor, delivered remarks.
In Denver, Littleton High School sophomore Hannah Sanders, 16, said she came to push for changes in gun control and mental health treatment and to show respect for students who lost their lives in the Stoneman Douglas shooting.
She said people were reluctant to talk about the attack at her school, probably because they have become too used to mass shootings.
“Somebody needs to stand up to them,” said Sanders, who wants the minimum age for buying guns to be raised from 18 to 21 and stricter requirements for background checks during gun purchasers.
Sadie Squier, 42, of Lakewood has been politically active on environmental issues and increasing funding for schools but until now she has avoided getting involved in gun control partly because of her respect for many people in her home state, like hunters who use guns responsibly.
But now, with a daughter who is about to turn 4, she feels compelled to act to keep students safe in schools.
She thinks all gun owners should have to attend classes like hunters do to learn about the risks and responsibilities of using their guns. She also does not think assault weapons should be available.
“They don’t have a purpose,” she said.