On Columbine Anniversary, N.H. Students March and Meet with Senators

Apr 20, 2018

Several hundred students from High Schools across New Hampshire gathered at the State House for the March on Senators. NHPR’s Sean Hurley sends us his report.

There was chanting…and speeches…but organizer Jennifer White said that she and her fellow students didn’t want to simply repeat last month’s rally. “I think that's a big thing for why we wanted this to be so focused on our senators,” White said, “Because we want to try to keep moving forward with change.”

This March was less of a public rally - more a group meeting with a number of democratic legislators.

Senator Dan Feltes meeting with students from Hopkinton High.
Credit Sean Hurley

Inside the State House, Senator Dan Feltes started things off by telling students that last month’s rally made an impact. That was the biggest march ever at the State House. Did you know that?” Feltes asked the gathered students. “The highest attended march ever at the State House. All student run. All student speakers. No politicians. The biggest march. So for those who are saying well you know change can't happen? We can't make change? Change is not just coming - change is here.”

Hopkinton High Seniors Leah Dinter and Cooper Kimball-Rhines told the senator what kinds of changes they want to see. “So what we're pushing for right now is the implementation of universal background checks, a ban on bump stocks and all automatic weapons,” Dinter said. “So I think we're looking for how can we help,” Kimball-Rhines added.

"Don't go away," Senator Feltes urged the students.
Credit Sean Hurley

“If you keep the pressure on,” the senator responded, “letters to the editor, keep showing up. I think there are some people who are hoping that this is just a blip on the radar screen that the students will go away. That you just wanted to do a couple of marches and that's it. Don't go away.”

But not all the students were inside talking to senators hoping for change. Concord High School seniors Steven West, William Sandford and about a dozen others stood outside hoisting an American flag –to protest the protestors.

Several Students from Concord High School were here to protest the protestors.
Credit Sean Hurley

“I just went around and talked to my friends and said 'hey we're doing a protest for the second amendment'. I mean they're doing gun control. Why didn't we just protest what they're doing?” West said.

Sandford added, “I don't really think banning guns is going to do anything because people are still going to find a way to get them.”

Jonathan Weinberg is one of the march leaders.
Credit Sean Hurley

Jonathan Weinberg, another student organizer, says students in favor of more gun control, like him, have a plan for what they want to do next. “So we're going to have voting registration at the high school in early June,” Weinberg said. “And if we cannot get the legislation that we are looking for at this time than our biggest is just looking for a big voter turnout in November.”

If they can’t change the laws, the students are hoping they can change the lawmakers.