A group of young gun reform activists, including a Parkland shooting survivor, gathered on Capitol Hill on Monday to share their experiences with gun violence and push for stricter firearm laws.
Generation Progress, the youth arm of the nonprofit Center for American Progress, held a news conference before walking the halls of Congress to ask lawmakers to take action to prevent future shootings.
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Aalayah Eastmond, 16, a junior who survived the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting on Feb. 14, was among the speakers who recalled how gun violence had touched their lives.
"No student should have to hide under her classmate's body, but I was that student," Eastmond said. "No student should have to have body matter picked out of her hair, but I was that student."
The group was also joined by Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., who has been an outspoken gun reform advocate since a gunman killed 20 children and six staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012.
"I know the power of young people. I know it because I've studied history," Murphy said. "There is no great social change movement in this country that was not led by young people. Every successful fight for social and political change has been led by young people, and now the gun reform fight is being led by young people."
Other speakers recounted how they had been injured by gun violence or how they had witnessed their friends fall victim to senseless shootings.
Afterward, the activists said they would spend the rest of the day visiting members of Congress, asking them to support tougher gun laws, including banning assault rifles and limiting the number of ammunition magazines a person can purchase. They also said they would advocate for universal background checks and support of local gun reform groups.
"The changes we're asking for aren’t just supported by young people, by non-gun owners, by people in blue states," Murphy said. "They're supported by a cross-section of Americans who don’t understand why this place [Washington] isn’t listening."