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East High School students take gun violence concerns to community leaders after student's death

denver east high school gun violence summit 3-9-23
Posted at 10:22 PM, Mar 09, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-10 00:22:58-05

DENVER — Student organizers at East High School took tough questions to a panel of community leaders Thursday regarding gun violence in schools following multiple recent shootings, including one that took the life of 16-year-old Luis Garcia.

While panelists agreed the solution is multi-faceted, several topics like reducing students' access to guns, mental health resources and the issue of security in schools was reoccurring.

"Make it as difficult as possible to acquire a gun," suggested Frank Locantore, Colfax Avenue Business Association executive director.

"Words are great, but it's the work that makes the difference," EHS Principal Terita Walker said at one point.

"Seventy-five percent of youth who bring guns to school or have access to guns get them from their families. They get them from home," said Robin Kneich, At-Large Denver City Councilmember.

Lawmakers, educators, police and researchers all sat on the panel organized by the student group Students Demand Action.

"It's not just East centric. It's every school. It's every community. So that really is a hard question. But we would love to see just some basic legislation on access to gun, especially for teens," said Clara Taub with Students Demand Action.

Luis Garcia's brother, Santos Garcia, sat in to hear what community leaders had to say.

"They say they want to cause change and that they're going to do something different, but it was just pretty words," said Garcia.

Some of the changes discussed ranged from keeping guns locked away from kids to bringing more officers to school.

"If that going to make them feel safe, or is it not? Because ultimately, that's what we want. We want our youth to feel safe in schools," said Denver Police Chief Ron Thomas.

Garcia said while the solution to gun violence in schools is complex, he believes that is one small thing that would help.

"I went to school. I felt safe when a police officer was at the entrance, and sometimes they were just in their cars. But I think that pushes away some of the violence and makes people think twice about committing acts that they shouldn't," he said.

The Denver Public School superintendent said this summit was the first of its kind that was completely organized by students. The students Denver7 spoke to say while the conversation is a good starting point, they are hoping to see concrete changes in the future.