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'A Conversation That Adults Are Refusing To Have': Utah Students On Gun Violence

Kelsie Moore
Left to right, Meg Flynn, Isaac Reese and Aurora Allen, seniors at Brighton High School and Elizabeth Love, a senior at West High School. The four hope the march they put on next month could finally breathe new life into a stale debate.

The deadly high school shooting in Florida earlier this month has reignited the age-old debate over gun control. Survivors of the attack are speaking out, and so are students across the country. Here in Utah, four high school seniors are organizing a march against gun violence next month.

It’s called “March For Our Lives,” a grassroots network of protests, largely led by students, scheduled for March 24. The organizers behind the Salt Lake demonstration share why this moment matters to them.


The viewpoint of a generation


“I think that even if the momentum from these marches die down say in the next few months, the students that are driving these marches represent an entire generation and an entire generation’s viewpoint. A lot of us can vote soon, we are going to be voting for candidates that support common sense gun regulations and so even if the momentum of these marches dies down that part isn’t going to change.” — Elizabeth Love, senior at West High School



It's about safety, not guns


"They train us to be prepared for if a shooter comes in, we have drills for it. It’s something that every day we calculate could happen just like a fire could break out in our school.” — Isaac Reese, senior at Brighton High school


“We’ve had gun threats on social media before that never panned out but they still cause extreme stress and worry for the students ... we’re not asking for something that’s unreasonable, we’re asking for our own safety in high school.” — Aurora Allen, senior at Brighton


“The biggest change is that it’s a really realistic fear nowadays.” — Meg Flynn, senior at Brighton


On those who want to discredit young voices


"Some adults say, 'You're too young, go back to class.' I just disregard it because this is my country and this is my government and I have a right to be involved and I have a right to say what I want and what I believe in and if they’re going to try to suppress my freedom of speech that’s very unamerican of them. — Reese


"I think especially with this issue that our age is actually very beneficial because what we’re asking for directly benefits us.” — Flynn


"We’ve gotten a lot of comments that say, 'Go back to eating Tide pods', which is hilarious, but at the same time I think there is an impression that has been created of millennials, and obviously we’re even younger than that, but I think it’s a misconception and I think that we’re showing people that now.” — Love

Being heard and setting an example 

"Youth are having a conversation that adults are refusing to have.” — Reese


“Kids are curious and I think the majority are willing to have conversations even if we have differing views and that’s always an exciting conversation to have.” — Flynn




Lee Hale began listening to KUER while he was teaching English at a Middle School in West Jordan (his one hour commute made for plenty of listening time). Inspired by what he heard he applied for the Kroc Fellowship at NPR headquarters in DC and to his surprise, he got it. Since then he has reported on topics ranging from TSA PreCheck to micro apartments in overcrowded cities to the various ways zoo animals stay cool in the summer heat. But, his primary focus has always been education and he returns to Utah to cover the same schools he was teaching in not long ago. Lee is a graduate of Brigham Young University and is also fascinated with the way religion intersects with the culture and communities of the Beehive State. He hopes to tell stories that accurately reflect the beliefs that Utahns hold dear.
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