FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4) – Hundreds of students in Fort Collins walked out of class Tuesday afternoon to show their support for stricter gun laws.
“We want responsible gun ownership,” said Allie Holton, a Poudre High School student and event organizer. “We’re hoping to make kids safe at school, make parents feel safe sending their kids to schools.”
Students from around northern Colorado met by the Poudre School District office on Laporte Ave. in Fort Collins.
They walked more than two miles to the town square in Old Town just after 1 p.m. Middle school and high school students, as well as many adults, participated in the walkout.
“I think that gun control needs to change,” said Olivia Veldhuizen. “We need to have a safer environment for our kids and for ourselves and we need to take a stand if no one else is going to do it.”
Fort Collins Police Services told CBS4 they are aware of the planned walkout and participants were expected to follow all laws.
Students chanted the “NRA has got to go” during their walk and as they approached the stage in the middle of the square. Many agreed there needs to be restrictions on what guns someone can own and the process to buy it.
“A human being shouldn’t be able to own an assault rifle. There’s really no point unless you’re in the Army,” said Max Jones, an 8th grader.
Some students agreed on the issue of limiting guns, but also said they would feel safer if there were more in school.
“I think the teachers should be able to have a weapon,” said Diego Gonzalez, an 8th grader.
While the event was not sponsored by the district or a permitted event, both the school district and police department worked to make sure there weren’t any disturbances near campuses or around the city.
Students needed permission from their parents to leave campus or have the walkout count as an excused absence.
Once gathered around the stage, students held up signs for each of the 17 victims of the shooting in Parkland, Florida. The crowd was asked to introduce themselves to people around them they did not know. The goal was to meet the same number of people who were killed in that shooting.
“Nobody has taken a stand like this before, and it’s time for us to do something to change it,” said Veldhuizen.
Students say they are motivated by the large turnout and believe their actions can lead to the change needed to reduce shootings at their schools.
“Kids deserve to feel safe, and deserve not to be sitting targets,” said Holton.