Scores of Vermont students and adults held a rally at the Statehouse Tuesday, pushing lawmakers for tighter gun laws in the wake of the Florida carnage.
The demonstration was organized by the group Gunsense Vermont.
Several high school students said they no longer feel safe in Vermont schools noting escalation in carnage in one state after another.
At the rally, students read the names of the 17 victims killed last week at a high school in Parkland, Florida.
Two days later, Vermont teenager Jack Sawyer was arrested for attempted first-degree murder in connection with a plot to attack Fair Haven Union High School.
Republican Gov. Phil Scott who until Friday opposed any change in state gun law, acknowledged he was “jolted” by the case and was now willing to reconsider his positions on both firearms and mental health regulation.
Vermont has some of the nation’s most lax gun laws.
A trio of measures are pending at the Statehouse, however, including a bill to expand background checks to more gun sales, another allowing police to temporarily confiscate weapons from homes in which there is domestic abuse, and a third allowing removal of weapons from a person a judge deems to be an “extreme risk.”
Those proposals are pending in the Senate Judiciary Committee and the next hearing is scheduled Thursday.
At the rally, and later walking the halls of the Statehouse, some students said they are fearful over the escalation in gun violence and school shootings.
Bill Moore, of Vermont Traditions Coalition, argued recent violence is more of a mental health problem than a gun problem.
“We need a deliberative process that isn’t driven by the passions of the moment and I and our organization thinks that we should be focusing on how to avoid producing kids who reach such a level of despair, such a level of hopelessness that they turn to the online community for ideas that are violent,” Moore said.
The students and parents attending the rally weren’t buying that.
“This isn’t about taking people guns away,” said Pamela Fein, a teacher and mother of three. “It’s about the access to guns that were designed to kill mass numbers of people. We don’t need that in our society there’s no reason for it in our society.”
Scott is expected to discuss the issue at his news conference Thursday.