‘Something has to be done’: Summit County students, parents protest school gun violence today
Video submitted by Maria Molina A third protest took place at the corner of Main Street and Highway 9 in Frisco. Around 80 Summit residents congregated at the busy intersection, many wearing orange shirts and stickers labeled with the #ENOUGH hashtag associated with the movement to end school shootings. Naomi McMahon, a Breckenridge mother of two Summit students, organized this protest independent of the school protests. She said she was not much of an activist in the past, but after seeing what happened in Parkland she took the “Enough!” message to heart and decided she could not stay silent any longer. “Something has to be done, and I don’t have the answers to what that is,” McMahon said as cars passing the intersection honked in support of the effort. “But with all the protests going on around the country, I should also be out here supporting my kids, trying to make schools safer.” Among the crowd was Breckenridge resident Becky Van Horn, who tearfully explained that she was there to honor the memory of Christopher Hixon, athletic director at Stoneman Douglas who was hailed as a hero when he sacrificed himself to shield students from gunfire. Van Horn, 24, knew “Coach Hixon” when she attended South Broward High School and he was athletic director there. “I just remember him being such an incredible goofball, and the way he interacted with people was amazing,” Van Horn said. She added that Hixon was a hero and active military at his death, having served in the Navy for 27 years. Hixon was buried with military funeral honors. “I was in disbelief at first, but not entirely surprised,” she said about her reaction to the Feb. 14 shooting. “South Florida isn’t exactly the safest place, but it never really resonated to me that it would happen to someone I knew.” When asked about what solution she proposed for school shootings, Van Horn was pragmatic about striking a balance between rights and safety. “I grew up around guns, I shot my first gun when I was 6,” she said. “I know what a responsible gun owner looks like, and I know what they don’t look like. Do I think all guns should be taken away? Not necessarily. But should they be taken out of the hands of people who can’t handle them respectfully? Absolutely.” During the protest, at least two Summit residents expressed their opposition to gun control, with one man expressing loud and angry displeasure at the supposed political aims of the protesters. The man, who declined to be identified, accosted the crowd for gathering in support of any gun control. Arguing with protesters, he yelled the protest was “exacerbating the problem,” and that protesters were “insane thinking they can get rid of all the guns.” About 100 feet away from the crowd, Summit County Republican Party Chairman Kim McGahey sat in a lawnchair with a sign that read, “Protect our kids: Make our schools gun zones.” Addressing a group of young girls who approached and asked him why he was advocating for guns in schools, McGahey explained his position. “What happens when a lunatic comes into your school and starts shooting people and there’s nobody to deter him,” he asked the pre-teens. “It would take 10 minutes for police to arrive to try to stop him.” McGahey went on to explain that he was in favor of arming teachers and other citizens on school grounds if they were trained or if they had a concealed carry permit, a view that has been slowly adopted by President Trump and the Republican Party at large. Despite these tense exchanges, all three protests were conducted peacefully and without incident. During the sit-in at the high school, Subberwal and Piehl gave a joint speech thanking their peers for exercising their right to peaceful assembly and for showing the larger community that they were “committed to change, and that there is incredible potential here for [their] voices to be heard.” The speech ended with a quote by anthropologist and activist Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small, committed group of citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
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