Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie
Lane Murdock, a sophomore at Ridgefield High School (Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie)

HARTFORD, CT — The politicians who have been at this for awhile were outshined Friday by three students from Ridgefield High school who represent millions of other students planning to stand up to gun violence and say “enough.”

Enough to school shootings. Enough to gun violence.

“When tragedies like the shooting in Florida happen, we as teenagers have no voice and no platform, even though the shooters are going into our schools and our spaces,”  Lane Murdock, a 15-year-old sophomore from Ridgefield, said Friday at a Legislative Office Building press conference. “Most of us can’t vote, yet.”

Murdock is a lead organizer of the National School Walkout movement. She helped organize a walkout on April 20th, the anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre. Across the nation, high school students will walk out at 10 a.m. and continue to protest until the end of the school day.

But there could be consequences.

Murdock recognizes news is circulating about school suspension as a penalty for skipping class.

Murdock said she has been working closely with her school administration, but there’s still a chance students will be suspended if they participate. She said she’s encouraging her peers to have conversations with their parents or guardians to find out if they have permission to participate, regardless of the consequences.

“If the parents still support them doing it, then I say do it,” she said.

She said the movement has had a lot of support and their numbers grow every day.

U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy emphasized that the involvement of young persons is the main reason something different is happening right now.

The movement was triggered by Murdock’s numb response to the news of the Florida shooting.

“The fact that I had such a numb reaction to something like this is not okay,” Murdock said. “This should not be normalcy, so I decided to make my petition.”

Murdock was born after the Columbine shooting and started participating in lockdown drills in first grade.

Paul Kim, a seventeen-year-old senior, shared how the movement started at a Starbucks. The growing numbers of support prompted Kim to say, “It is an incredible energy and momentum that we want to capitalize on.”
Mark Barden, who lost his son Daniel in the Sandy Hook massacre five years ago, described Murdock and the high school students from Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida as a “no bullshit constituency.”

Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie
U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy (Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie)

He said they’re not going to be intimidated by “corporate greed. They’re not going to be bullied by money and power. They want to fix this and they’re going to do it.”

Five years after Sandy Hook there’s been no legislation at the federal level to address gun violence. U.S. John B. Larson pointed out that the House held 62 votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but has yet to raise a bill to address gun violence.

“I’m sick of this,” Barden said as he wiped away tears.

Barden was at the White House earlier this week to tell President Donald Trump that they’re “arming teachers with the tools to recognize these people and to spot them and to get them help before they pick up an AR-15 and wreak havoc in a school or at a concert or at a movie theater or at a shopping mall.”

He said the U.S. House has already introduced the “Stop School Violence Act,” which funds schools to train staff and students on prevention. It will be introduced in the Senate on Tuesday.

He said they have developed an anonymous reporting system kids can put on their phone that goes to call center staffed with professionals who are equipped to handle situations.

Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie
Mark Barden holds up a photo of his son Daniel (Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie)

Sandy Hook Promise also has a guide to help students and teachers recognize the signs.

Connecticut’s Congressional delegation, who are all Democrats, are determined to use the time between now and the next election to fight hard for reform that protects the American people from gun violence.

U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro said, “The energy and the direction of our kids is what is going to lead the way. We are going to stand on their shoulders and we are going to take action.”

Murdock confessed the group is still in the midst of developing next steps to follow the April 20th walkout. But Murdock stresses that efforts will be initiated that continue to empower young people.

“The kids are growing up and taking charge. And nothing can stop that,” concluded Murdock.

Christine Stuart contributed to this report.

Connecticut’s congressional delegation and Sandy Hook families speak at a press conference in Hartford.

Posted by on Friday, February 23, 2018