Park City High School students organize town hall to address gun violence
After a month full of school walkouts and marches for stricter gun control in March, some have sensed radio silence from the nation’s youth. But student advocates at Park City High School want the community to know they are still here, and they are still seeking change.
Three students plan to host a town hall meeting about gun violence at the end of the month. Faith Staley, Adam Herbst and Adam Hickey are organizing the event, which is scheduled for May 31 at 5:30 p.m. at the Jim Santy Auditorium in the Park City Library.
Staley was one of the main organizers of the March walkout, which took place alongside a national movement in response to the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, earlier this year. She said she was inspired by her peers who stood up with her to demand change. Now that primary elections are approaching, she hopes the town hall meeting spurs conversation within the community and encourages them to vote.
Staley and Herbst said Rep. Logan Wilde (R-Croydon), running for re-election in House District 53, and Cathy Callow-Heusser, the United Utah Party candidate vying for Senate District 26, will attend. Chris Neville, a Democrat running for House District 53, said he might attend via video call. Other candidates representing districts that include parts of Summit County have been invited. The mediator is scheduled to be Carolyn Murray from KPCW radio.
The event is open to all residents in Summit County and those in the candidates’ districts who live outside the county.
Herbst said he hopes individuals leave the event with “boosted political advocacy” and more information about the solutions to gun violence proposed by candidates. He said he especially hopes to see Park City teens and young adults attend.
Staley said the timing of the event is important because it is taking place about one month before primary elections.
“We’re giving everybody more education on who they are actually voting for and what they are supporting in terms of this very specific issue,” she said.
Staley said she and the students hope to foster a conversation about gun violence in the country and what can be done to reduce it, both through increased gun control and other means. She said they plan to invite various political organizations to attend in order to balance the gathering.
“We want it to be more of a discussion,” she said. “The goal is to create a dialogue around the overly polarized issue of gun violence.”
Herbst said reducing gun violence in the country will not occur only with a new law, but it could be a piece of the solution. He hopes to hear what some of the other solutions might be.
Herbst and Staley said helping to organize the school walkout and the March For Our Lives has provided them with the confidence to be active in the political sphere. They said the uprising of youths all over the country has been empowering, and they hope to keep the momentum going until they see change.
“This is our way of not forgetting about Parkland or Orlando or Sandy Hook, or any of the other countless victims of gun violence in this country,” Staley said.
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The Park City School District offices were inadvertently locked, but security footage was reviewed and the only two community members who showed up were let in and joined in an informal chat with Board of Education members and staff.