FRANKFORT, Ky. — Hundreds of Kentucky high school students, including survivors of a campus shooting this year, joined a nationwide gun violence protest Wednesday by rallying in frigid weather at the state Capitol.
A group of students from Marshall County High School, the site of a deadly shooting in January, made the more than three hour road trip to Frankfort.
Marshall County student Cameron King urged demonstrators to “keep screaming, keep yelling, keep fighting until you make a change, because we are the change.” King recalled fleeing the school during the Jan. 23 shooting and hiding at a car dealership.
“Today I speak for those who ran for their lives out of Marshall County, Parkland, Heath (High School in Kentucky), Columbine and all the schools who came before us,” King said. “Those who screamed, cried, grieved and lost.”
Students huddled near the front entrance to the Capitol, chanting and carrying signs that said “Never Again” and “Books Not Bullets.”
A handful of lawmakers spoke to the students, including state Rep. Will Coursey, a Democrat whose district includes Marshall County.
Coursey said he is a proud hunter and sportsman, like many people from the western county nestled on the shores of Kentucky Lake. But Coursey, a Democrat, said he recently questioned the support he gets from the National Rifle Association and its backing of the sale of assault weapons. Coursey recently filed a bill in the Kentucky legislature calling for schools to have mental health professionals on staff.
“There is nothing, nothing sporting about these assault weapons that are manufactured, that are developed to take human life,” Coursey said. “Who in the name of common sense needs an assault weapon with one of these crazy bump stocks, the same one that was used in Las Vegas?”
Two students were killed and several more were injured in the shooting at Marshall County High School. A fellow student, 15-year-old Gabriel Parker, has been charged with murder and assault in the slayings.
One of the most impassioned pleas came from Lex Hendrix, a student at nearby Franklin County High School. She held up a picture of Dylan Hockley, a 6-year-old killed in the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut that killed 20 children and six staff members.
“How many more precious lives like Dylan Hockley’s will be taken before this is taken seriously?” Hendrix asked, fighting back tears. “We just want someone to listen, without thinking we want to get rid of your guns.”
Tens of thousands of students across the country participated in the walkout Wednesday, riding a wave of activism after the Feb. 14 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.