DENVER — Friday, students and Denver Public Schools (DPS) staff rallied outside the Colorado Capitol for a second straight day.
The teachers, students and other staff members said they want lawmakers to understand their very real fear that their school will be the next to deal with a shooting.
They said they want legislative action and fast, drawing attention to bills that would raise the minimum age to buy a gun, institute 3-day waiting periods for a weapon, among other things.
Students also walked out of class and to the capitol earlier this month, after the shooting death of their classmate, Luis Garcia.
"I've been afraid," said Angeli Cazares, a sophomore at North High School. "These incidents have been happening since forever and we have seen no change."
She said that students today don't know what it's like to go to school without fearing gun violence.
"So many people are dying and nobody bats an eye anymore because that is the norm," she said.
She and hundreds of other students, parents, and teachers said they want lawmakers to hear and feel some of their pain.
"I had to hold one of my students at Thomas Jefferson High School, my senior student, crying because his sister was at East and I held him as he cried and I assured him it was okay, but I shouldn’t have to do that," said Amber Wilson, a teacher. "He was terrified. We have to end this now."
Teachers led a march around the Capitol, while others waited to get inside and in front of legislators. DPS schools were closed on Friday for a mental health day after Wednesday's shooting.
"It is hard to recognize that there’s a reason we’re here today, which is that a child took his own life after shooting two staff members and it’s a tragedy from the start, from before how we failed that student, to the very end where he was found and everything that happened in between was just a failure from adults, from leaders and that it’s time to do everything we can to correct it," said Alex Nelson, a teacher at Bryant-Webster Dual Language School.
He said he fears at any point, a shooting could come to his school.
"I've had vivid dreams of shootings happening at my school and I wish I could say that when I wake up it doesn't feel like it could be a reality," said Nelson.
For him, losing a student, a fellow teacher, a loved one, is never too far from becoming real.
"To know that could be the case for me, that could be the case for different colleagues, that it could be the case for my daughter..." he said. "Listen to them for what they're asking for so they can feel safe enough to finish out the year and not be afraid to walk through those school doors."
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