Nevada students are continuing the fight against gun violence through talks with legislators and a focus on taking steps at the state level.
“School safety and people getting shot should be a bipartisan issue,” said Jake Rouse, 18, a senior at Las Vegas Academy of the Arts.
Rouse joined about a dozen other students from Clark County on Thursday to talk with U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev, about gun violence at the downtown Las Vegas school.
And students may actually bring legislation to the forefront. Rachel Rush, 17, a junior at Las Vegas Academy, is also a member of the Nevada Youth Legislature. The program gives a group of students an inside look at how the system works in Nevada. But they also get to propose one piece of legislation each session.
Rush wants it to focus on making schools safer.
“That’s what I’m personally passionate about,” she said.
The students who met with Cortez Masto, including high school sophomores and UNLV graduate students, generally agreed they do not feel safe in school, that bump stocks should be banned and there’s a balance between protecting the Second Amendment and limiting access to guns.
“It can start with something simple, like locking the doors,” said Matthew Borello, 15, a Palo Verde High School sophomore. “People come and go in my school, and you’re not supposed to do that.”
Students generally agreed that schools should get more training and drills to help protect them from assailants, but even preparedness comes with a cost.
“When we do a lockdown, our first thought is that there’s someone on campus with a gun. That might not be the case, but that’s where my mind goes,” said Shelsea Contreras, 18, a Valley High School senior.
Students also advocated for more mental health services in schools and better enforcement of bullying laws. Students said sometimes they report odd behavior or bullying and feel like it doesn’t go anywhere.
About half the students at the discussion said they can think of someone at their school who may be violent, but they are not sure what to do with that information.
Cortez Masto encouraged the students to keep the topic on the minds of the public and lawmakers.
“Your voices help put pressure on us and bring the leverage,” she said. “You are the voting bloc of the future.”