DENVER — Hundreds of students fearing for their lives and safety filled the state Capitol and waited outside the Senate and House chambers Thursday morning in another attempt to demand legislative action on gun safety.
It's the second time this month students from East High School have organized a rally like this. First, after the death of their classmate Luis Garcia, and now after two of their administrators were shot.
"It's upsetting, just at times when we're not actively moving, it hits us [to] why we're here and why we're doing this," said Ali Sittiseri, sophomore at East High School and a member of Students Demand Action.
Sitting still sometimes makes the pain more difficult to bear.
So the day after a shooting inside of her school and while still grieving, Sittiseri and her classmates are waiting to get in front of legislators again to push for gun safety laws.
"We aren't just trying to say we're upset," she said. "We're trying to offer real solutions."
Sittiseri said they want four bills passed by next week. They include legislation that raises the minimum age to buy a gun from 18 to 21, expands the red flag law, creates firearm purchase waiting periods, and removes limits of product liability actions against manufacturers of firearms.
"One of the most saddening things was the 'E' outside of our school, it is still painted an 'L' for Luis," she said. "That is still there while there was the police and the ambulance coming to help our administrators."
Sittiseri said she and her classmates have had more days off school for shooting incidences than snow days this year.
"At the rec center across from our school there was a shooting where a student got shot. Then we had the targeted swatting incident, the shooting of Luis Garcia, and the school shooting yesterday," she said. "We’ve had one snow day and if we count today and tomorrow, that would be four days off for shootings."
She said she doesn't know if she wants to go back to school yet, but feels like their presence at school is needed for change to happen.
"My mom asked me, 'Do you want to go back? We can talk about it later. We don’t have to talk about it now.' A lot of other students don’t feel safe going back," said Sittiseri.
Kids from schools across the metro area came to protest and support students at East High.
"I see a lot of kids from different schools and rivaling schools like East and South, coming together to fight for safety, all together," said Mateo Fleischer.
Fleischer is a freshman at Regis Jesuit High School.
"It's not just a East, like a DPS thing," he said. "It affects the whole Colorado community."
Lucy Sarkissian also came to the protest. She survived the STEM Highlands Ranch shooting in 2019.
"It's been four years almost for me since my shooting and nothing has changed," she said. "Something absolutely has to change and I’m here to stand with them."
Today, she's a senior at Colorado Early Colleges and spends a lot of her time advocating for gun violence prevention.
On Wednesday night, she testified on behalf of bills going through the legislature.
"I was getting ready to go testify on a bill about gun violence prevention in the state, on the two year anniversary of the Boulder King Soopers shooting, while reading the news about another school shooting in this area, and that’s incredibly dystopian," said Sarkissian. "There’s something incredibly painful about that."
She said she believes that the bills in the legislature right now have the potential to save a lot of lives.
"I survived a shooting when I was 14-years-old. Before I even got to high school, I became aware of what gun violence does to a person’s life and it should’ve never been like that," said Sarkissian. "We shouldn't have to be still enacting these laws. We should've fixed this after Columbine."
Hundreds of students protested today and marched downtown, desperate for adults to listen, recognize their pain, and do something about it.
"It's definitely not a position we should be in, but it's where we are and I will stand here until we have the change that is needed," said Sittiseri.
East High students protest at the Capitol for the second time this month following more gun violence
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