Local students gather to protest gun violence in wake of Florida school shooting

A group of students with the help of State Rep. Stacey Newman organized a press conference on Feb. 23 at Parkway Central High School to urge lawmakers to take action to prevent mass shootings.

Eric Berger, Staff Writer

A group of Parkway Central High School students organized a news conference after school Friday to call for action to prevent gun violence in the wake of the shooting earlier this month at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

More than 70 students stood in front of the school as a few students spoke and were joined by State Rep. Stacey Newman, D-St. Louis. A day earlier, Newman filed the Save our Kids Act, which aims to make it more difficult for a person to obtain a weapon without receiving a permit and a federal background check and bans the sale of firearms and ammunition to minors and the sale of fully-automatic guns, among other measures.

“We should not and can not live in fear,” said Zoe Rosenberg, a senior who is Jewish and helped organized the gathering. She also is the daughter of Rabbi Brigitte Rosenberg of United Hebrew Congregation.

“That is why we, today’s students, must do our part to ensure the safety of tomorrow, so call your senators, call your representatives, demand action — tell them to vote gun smart, to find a way so that not one more student loses their life to gun violence,” added Zoe Rosenberg.


Earlier in the day, more than 120 students had also walked out of class at Clayton High School to for a similar news conference, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

And at Ladue Horton Watkins High School, more than 150 students walked out onto the track during the school day to hold a moment of silence for the shooting victims, the district spokesperson told the newspaper.

The local action comes as high school students across the country are urging Republican lawmakers to approve legislation that students and most Democrats say would help prevent mass shootings.

President Donald Trump has responded by proposing that some teachers carry firearms in the classroom, raising the minimum age for buying an assault rifle from 18 to 21 and banning the sale of bump stocks, which allows shooters to convert semi-automatic weapons to automatic weapons.

Newman said that she had heard from students asking her what they could do to help pass legislation. The Parkway Central news conference attracted more than 50 parents, teachers, rabbis and members of the Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.

“These students are mad. The teachers are mad. The parents are mad,” she said. “All I did was behind the scenes was help make this a reality.”

Hannah Maurer, a Parkway Central senior and recently selected a 2018 Unsung Hero by the Jewish Light for her activism, also helped organize the conference and spoke. She said she had been inspired by the Florida students’ response to the shooting

“We need to keep it going and show other students that they do have a voice and their voice should always be included — and that [their voice] matters,” said Maurer.

Josh Heiman, a 14-year-old Jewish student, said “consistently hearing about these shootings happening over and over again, it’s to the point where we have to do something about it and there’s no other way than” gun reform.

He said he plans to contact state officials, federal officials and “anyone who can help find a way to change the laws.”