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BETHLEHEM—Earlier this week, between the national student walkout and March For Our Lives, the nationwide rally demanding an end to gun violence in schools, local students continued to raise awareness about the issue of gun control, a nationwide conversation that has been sparked, not for the first time, by a devastating school shooting—this time in Parkland, Fla.
A group of Bethlehem students and parents organized by senior Lydia Martell rallied at Four Corners on Wednesday, March 21, joining in the nationwide call to find solutions to the increasingly prevalent problem of gun violence in American schools. They are among the members of the current generation of U.S. students who not only say they no longer feel safe in the halls and classrooms where they go to learn, having grown up watching coverage of their peers in Columbine, Sandy Hook and, now, Parkland, but are also standing up and demanding that something be done before it happens again.
“We’re hoping to raise awareness because people seem to care more about guns and their right to carry guns than about students and their lives,” said one Bethlehem student who will be old enough to vote in a few months. She said she also plans to make her voice heard at the polls.
“After the recent Parkland shooting in Florida, gun violence just became really real to us and we wanted to come together as a community to not only grieve together, but also to support each other and build each other up so that we can fight the gun violence in this country,” said Martell, who will be speaking at the March For Our Lives rally on Saturday, March 24, along with local state and Congressional representatives Phil Steck, Patricia Fahy and Paul Tonko. She hopes that others will be inspired to join her and her classmates as they call for legislation that would ban assault-style guns, require background checks for all gun purchases and make it easier to disarm potentially violent gun owners.
In addition to the ‘March For Our Lives’ event, which was announced by students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland just four days after Nikolas Cruz gunned down 14 of their classmates and three teachers on Valentine’s Day, a full day walk-out is planned for April 20, the 19th anniversary of the Columbine massacre, which left 15 dead. Martell said that she and a number of her classmates intend to take part in that as well.
“We definitely want to spread the message that we’re not going to let anything like this happen ever again,” she said.
March For Our Lives Albany will take place on the west lawn of the New York State Capitol Building from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 24. Martell, students from Schalmont, Columbia, Shaker and Albany high schools, elected officials and local leaders will speak from 10 a.m. until approximately 11:30 a.m. Demonstrators will then march around the perimeter of the Capitol building two times. Volunteers will be sitting at dedicated tables and circulating through the crowd to register new voters, both young and old.