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‘We can change things:’ Local students call for end to gun violence on anniversary of Parkland massacre

February 15, 2019 GMT

A group gathered Thursday night in Durham to remember those lost in the Parkland massacre and plead for an end to gun violence.

Thursday night’s vigil was organized by high school students, as were many events in the year since a gunman opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.

Valentine’s Day will always come with some sadness for friends Marie Gualtieri and Kealia Reynonds. Both were college students in North Carolina when the call came about their alma mater.

“I think I kept telling myself this isn’t real, they got the fats wrong, there’s no way this happened in my community in my hometown,” Reynolds said.

But the tragedy was real.

“A lot of people didn’t have their cellphones. It was hard to get in contact with people,” Gualtieri said.

Gualtieri knew someone who died in the attack. That’s why a vigil 800 miles away from her hometown was so moving.

Durham’s student-led chapter of March for Our Lives mad a call to action at the center of CCB Plaza to end gun violence.

“For me, one of the first things I think about is if today is going to be the day that my school is going to have a shooting,” Laura McDow, a student at the Carolina Friends School, said.

The event comes not only on the anniversary of the Parkland shooting, but just weeks after Durham’s own police chief called on the community to put an end to what had been a violent start to the new year.

“We can change things. We can get legislation that can help stop gun violence,” Durham School of the Arts student Josephine Barboriak said.

State lawmakers also attended the vigil and mentioned House Bill 86, a newly filed bill that aims to add almost a dozen provisions for gun safety.

The omnibus gun bill, dubbed the Gun Violence Protection Act, includes provisions that would require background checks on all gun purchases, prohibit high-capacity magazines, ban bump stocks and raise the age to purchase an assault-style weapon from 18 to 21.