6 Months After Parkland Shooting, N.H. Teens Advocate for Gun-Free School Zones

Aug 15, 2018

Laila Ruffin and other New Hampshire students advocate for stricter gun control legislation.
Credit Savannah Maher/NHPR

Students in Parkland, Florida started school today six months after a shooter killed 14 of their classmates and 3 adult teachers and coaches. A group of  teenagers from around New Hampshire spent the day rallying for gun control measures in their own state. 

The 25 students, who held a press conference followed by a march around the State House this morning, are part of what they call the "lockdown generation" -- kids who have grown up preparing for the possibility of a mass school shooting. 

"We do these lockdown drills, sometimes we're told that they're not drills, and we're in these states of terror within our classrooms," Said Laila Ruffin, who graduated from Concord High School in June. "It's a part of who students are today."

Ruffin came to urge lawmakers to allow New Hampshire towns to ban guns from public school property.

"When you don't have a gun-free school zone you can't ask a person to leave or physically take action until they start firing," Ruffin said. 

Alan Rice of the New Hampshire Firearms Coalition believes that banning guns would make schools more vulnerable to gun voilence, not less. 

"When we look at mass shootings across America, they occur in gun free zones," Rice said. "Parkland, Florida has an absolute ban on anyone carrying a gun in a school."  

The New Hampshire State Senate struck down legislation that would have allowed gun-free school zones along party lines in March. A similar bill could be filed after a newly elected legislature takes office in November. 

Around 25 student gun control activists from around New Hampshire marched around the State House.
Credit Savannah Maher/NHPR

Unlike most of the teen activists at today's rally, Ruffin is old enough to vote in this year's state elections. And she says that gun control will be on her mind. 

"It's probably one of the top issues that I'll be looking into with candidates," Ruffin said.