What's Next for New Hampshire's Student Activists After 'March for Our Lives?'

Mar 27, 2018

View of the March for Our Lives rally at the N.H. State House on March 24, 2018.
Credit Sean Hurley / NHPR

  Students marched in rallies across the country this past weekend to bring awareness to gun violence and school safety. The "March for Our Lives" rallies were part of a national movement led by students of a high school in Parkland, Fla., where a mass shooting took place last month.

Molly Robert, a senior at Kennett High School in North Conway, spoke with NHPR two weeks ago while students were preparing for the event. She joined Morning Edition Host Rick Ganley today to talk about what's next for student activists here in the Granite State.

 

(This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.)

You know, last time we spoke with you we previewed the student walkout at your school in North Conway. How did it turn out?

It turned out really well, actually. We had around 350 students participate. We had I believe 10 students speakers who got up and spoke. So it was a really successful rally I think.

And you feel like people around the school really participated and really took it to heart?

Yeah, I think so. A lot of the students who spoke at the walk-out, they hadn't planned to speak, they didn't have things they'd written before. They just kind of got up and talked from the heart.

Has there been a lot of discussion after the walkout?

I know that the students involved in planning the walkout, a few days before we actually had a local gun shop owner come in and talk to us about, you know, what the processes for buying a weapon in the state of New Hampshire, things like background checks. We want to sound knowledgeable in what we're talking about, and I think that that local gun shop owner coming in really made us rethink some of our arguments so we could sound more informed.

Did you attend any March for Our Lives rallies this weekend?

I did actually yes. I stayed more at the local level and I went to a rally in Jackson, N.H.

And what was it like participating in the march?

It was really nice, actually. It was promoted as a bipartisan event. So there are people on both sides of the political spectrum, you know. I was talking from a student point as the march on Saturday, where we were saying that we want stricter gun control laws to be safe at schools. And there were quite a few people who talked about how they didn't think the state of New Hampshire needed stricter gun control laws. I mean there were some parts, of I think any bipartisan event, where people were yelling over each other, but I think for the most part it went really well and it was nice to hear both sides of the debate on Saturday.

Now that both the march and school walkouts have ended, what do you and other student activists at your school plan to do next?

We are in the works of planning a voter registration for mid-April to get student registered to vote. We have contacted all of our surrounding town clerks and it sounds like they're going to come in with the paperwork so that we can get students registered to vote.

Students from the walkout were forming a club at our school called "Eagles for Action" and we actually have our first meeting this afternoon to put kind of the finishing touches on the voter registration drive, you know, re-evaluate our message. We're also thinking about planning a local forum at Kennett High School to get in people from both sides of the debate. Local Rep., or a local state senator,  you know, people of this sort, so we can have a nice discussion about what we think we can do.

And what do you hope to talk to students about as they're getting ready to enroll to vote? What are some of the points that you're trying to make?

The most important thing where I'm coming from is that I want young people to vote. And I think a lot of young people who are turning 18 this year, I think they think, 'Oh, well, one vote doesn't matter.' But it does. We're trying to get the point across that every vote matters.

So it's more about trying to get people to vote rather than maybe trying to steer them to a particular candidate or candidates?

Yeah, and I think for the most part most students have already made up their minds in this debate. We have contacted all of our local state reps and it sounds like they do not support the legislation that we would like to see passed,  such as raising the purchasing age for semi-automatic weapons to 21, keeping school grounds gun-free and instituting universal background checks. So for us right now we do want young people to vote but we're also looking towards the midterm elections and trying to vote in representatives who will enact that legislation.