Oklahoma youth call for gun reform at Capitol rally
Dozens of high school and college students gathered along the south side of the Oklahoma State Capitol on Saturday to demand gun reform and an end to gun violence in the state and across the country.
“We really have an uphill fight today. We really have a test and the odds are against us,” James Limbaugh, a student at the University of Central Oklahoma, told the crowd at the March For Our Lives rally. “But there’s one thing I would never bet against in America, is the people. We the people of the United States are gathered here today because we see a problem within our democracy. That problem is gun violence.”
Maddie Malone, 18, of Edmond, said there’s a misconception about what she and others that attended the rally want to do.
“I think a lot of people have like the wrong idea about March For Our Lives. They think we want to ban guns, which is not the case at all,” Malone said.
Instead, she said there are a few things she and others would like to accomplish, such as raise the minimum age to buy a rifle to 21, expand background checks and eliminate the “gun show loophole.”
“We need training. We need permits if you’re going to carry a gun,” she said. “Of all the things to, like, not need a permit for, I feel like a gun is something you really need one for because it is such a lethal weapon.”
A student at the University of Central Oklahoma, Mikayla Maiahy, 18, of Edmond, said she wants more restrictive gun laws in place to make getting a gun harder. She also said she doesn’t see the need for assault-style rifles.
“I can understand having a shotgun or a rifle if you do hunting or a pistol for safety in your home, but I don’t understand why you would need an assault weapon,” she said.
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Maiahy said she doesn’t agree with state’s new permitless carry law, adding that more people having the right to conceal or openly carry a gun without a permit would likely lead to more violence.
A student at Putnam City West High School, Carissa Corcoran, 18, of Oklahoma City, came to the rally with her girlfriend and her girlfriend’s sister in an effort to have their voices heard.
“I don’t want us to be silenced, so we’re here and making a statement,” she said.
While she said she didn’t know anyone who had been a victim of gun violence, Corcoran said the threat is very real, especially since there have been multiple instances of people bringing guns to school in the Putnam City School District this year.
“We go on lockdown often. It can happen anywhere to anyone,” she said.
When asked how she felt about those who call for teachers to be armed in schools in an effort to prevent shootings, she said it was a bad idea.
“If you knew some of the teachers at my school, you would not feel safe with them carrying guns around,” she said.
When asked how much of an impact Saturday’s rally would have in such a pro-gun state, Malone said big things can have small beginnings.