Sac State students among anti-gun demonstrators

Rain fell on students, organizers, teachers, parents and politicians as they rallied on the Capitol Mall on Wednesday morning in solidarity with nationwide school walkouts protesting gun violence in the wake of the Parkland, Florida school shooting last month.

Weather cleared up as speakers began to take the stage set up near the Capitol, and high school students stood holding signs with the names of the 17 people killed in the Parkland shooting.

Speakers primarily focused on the National Rifle Association’s opposition to stricter gun control and proposed changes in the law including reinstating the federal assault weapons ban, preventing domestic abusers from purchasing guns, moving the gun ownership age to 21 and requiring background checks for all firearm purchases.

“We are here to take a stand on gun violence, and to make sure that Congress and our elected officials are listening to us,” said speaker and organizer Winter Minisee, a senior at Encore High School in Southern California. “Especially after the Parkland shooting, it definitely galvanized the youth across the nation to stand up and finally say, ‘We’ve had enough, and these are our demands, and if you do not meet them, we will vote you out.’ ”

Organizers estimated that 500 to 600 people were in attendance. The time was chosen to be in solidarity with school walkouts being conducted by students nationwide.

“The rally makes me feel good about the future because we don’t have to rely on those that are older than us,” said Austin Michael, a Sac State student majoring in political science and an intern for Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento, who also spoke.

A bloc of Sac State social work students who intern with the Wellspring Women’s Center joined the demonstration.

Jaenette Cervantez, a Sac State student with the women’s center, said that her work at the women’s center and the walkouts were related.

“A lot of the women at the women’s center have been tormented by gun violence,” she said.

Caitlyn Dominguez, another Sac State student with the women’s center, agreed.

“It’s not just one problem,” she said. “I think that guns are so easy to access — a domestic violence perpetrator can go get a gun and shoot their victim.”

The rally was organized by the Empower youth outreach program of the Sacramento Women’s March organization.

The location was chosen because it is near contains the headquarters for the California NRA.

Gracie Rabamad, a Sac State student with the women’s center, said that she felt it was her “duty” to come to the protest.

“It seems that shootings have become a normalcy in society, which is extremely disturbing,” she said. “Stricter gun laws must be enforced — it is too easy for individuals to gain access to fire weapons, and more regulations are very much necessary.”

Cassandra Peralta, the president of the Young Democrats club at St. Francis High School in Sacramento, said she was taking an unexcused absence from school to be at the event.

According to Peralta, the school does not support the student walkout and her and other students from were at risk of punishment.

“We have plans for voter registration drives,” Peralta said. “If we can’t protest, then we need to remove those that make us need to protest; we work with what we have.”

California State University Chancellor Timothy White said in a statement that participation in the walkouts would not affect a student’s admission into the system.

Jessica Browning, the lead chair and executive producer of the Sacramento chapter of the Women’s March organization, said that the NRA has become the focus of protest action in the wake of the Parkland shooting.

The California NRA did not respond to a request for comment as of press time.