Parkland Shooting Survivors To Discuss Voting, Gun Violence At Forum In Kansas City, Kansas
Survivors of the February shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, will host a town hall in Kansas City, Kansas, Monday night as part of a national tour.
NPR reports that March For Our Lives, the organization founded by the student activists who put together the event of the same name in Washington, D.C. three months ago, will make more than 50 stops in 20 states as part of the tour, including the 6 p.m. event Monday at Reardon Convention Center.
The tour kicked off Friday in Chicago and continues through August. The organization says the tour is targeting areas where the NRA has influence over politics and communities. Organizers chose Kansas City, Kansas, because of its location in Kansas' 3rd Congressional District
Rachel Gonzalez, an organizer with March For Our Lives Kansas City, said the event will feature a panel with Parkland students and students from both states in the Kansas City metro answering questions from the audience. She said the discussion will focus on voting and gun-violence issues.
Gonzalez said U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder, a Republican who represents the 3rd District, has not been very receptive to the message of the organization, and the activists are hoping to either get him to listen or elect a new congressperson.
“Keeping our children safe is always at the top of my mind," Yoder told KCUR in a statement late Monday afternoon. "It's why I’ve voted recently for measures that have been signed into law to strengthen background checks to keep firearms out of the hands of dangerous criminals, reinforce school security, and allow CDC to study gun violence. I was one of the first Republicans in Congress to call for a ban on bump stocks, and was glad to see the Administration follow through with executive action. To continue the ongoing discussion, I’ve also put together a community task force to share ideas and perspectives from across the political spectrum to improve the safety of all our children. Students have an important voice in this discussion and I hope they continue to be involved in our political process.”
Gonzalez said the goal of the movement is not to repeal the Second Amendment, and that it's important to them to show people they share some of the same values as gun owners.
"We do know that there are responsible gun owners in Kansas and across the United States," Gonzalez said. "We just want better background checks and mental health screenings, and (to) make sure that people with violent pasts can't get a hold of guns."
The event will also include an on-site voter registration drive. Gonzalez said it sign language interpreters will be there and anyone is welcome to come.
Editor's note: This story was updated at 3:53 p.m. Monday to include U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder's statement.
Nicolas Telep is KCUR's morning news intern.