Dally Catania, recent high school graduate, stood alongside Kuhio Highway in a downpour Saturday morning alongside more than 500 other demonstrators, taking part in the March for Our Lives rally.
“I was really inspired by the students in Florida,” said Catania, a Puhi resident. “Young people’s lives are most important and I cry when I think about all those young kids who died.”
Her father Raymond stood next to her, holding a sign reading “Ban assault weapons.”
“The young people brought us out,” he said. “And it’s not about hunting or using guns. We’re not against hunters. It’s assault weapons killing people. It’s about protecting the kids.”
March For Our Lives was a nationwide demonstration, organized by the student survivors of the Florida school shooting Feb. 14.
Students from Majory Stoneman High School in Parkland, Florida, said the goal of the rally, which was organized in Washington, D.C., with sister rallies taking place in cities and towns around the globe, was to encourage Congress to pass gun legislation.
Specifically, the students want Congress to ban the sale of assault weapons, prohibit the sale of high-capacity magazines, and close the loophole in background check laws.
Down the line of Kauai demonstrators that carried signs that read “Books not bullets,” “Silence is violence,” “Protect people, not the NRA,” and “Schools not war zones,” two former teachers from Michigan stood up for a different angle on safe schools.
School safety is also about support, mental health and adequate facilities, according to Laurie and Bill Basset. They said they were spurred to action not only by a desire to pass stronger gun laws, but as a way to impress the importance of creating a healthy, balanced atmosphere where children can learn in safety — not only from guns, but with the support of an adequate number of counselors.
“Mental health is a huge component,” said Laurie Bassett. “We’ve seen the kids in school and have a good idea of who could travel that path.”
The couple shared their views through signs that read “Arm teachers and our country with mental health resources” and “Support safe schools. More counselors. More security officers. More $ for improvements.”
“Getting people help and resources is more important than (banning) guns,” Bill Bassett said.
Sara Sloan and her mother, Jean Thompson, both from Lawai, demanded action from Congress on Saturday morning, in lieu of emotional support, with their sign that had the words “Thoughts” and “Prayers” crossed out and the word “Action” circled.
“I want to see assault weapons banned and see our schools and nation safe from gun violence,” Sloan said.
While at the rally, Thompson and Sloan met Sherri Watson, who helped organize the March For Our Lives in Durango, Colorado, before taking her week-long vacation on Kauai.
“I have 14-year old twins and an 18-year-old and my kids struggle with feeling unsafe at school,” Watson said. “It’s about the safety of our children.”
The Kilauea Neighborhood Association also organized an event Saturday morning, at the Christ Memorial Episcopal Church Parish Hall on Kolo Road. No information was available by press time of how many participated on the North Shore.
Approximately 800,000 people attended the Washington, D.C., march, with communities all around the United States and in places like Paris and London joining in the demonstration.
Passionate pleas and heartfelt speeches filled the nation. On Kauai, most who passed through the crowd gathered at the intersection leading to the Lihue Airport honked their horns in support.
“#Enough” was the sign that Catania held as the rain drenched the crowd on Saturday morning.
“Here on Kauai, we’re hunters and we use our guns,” she said, “but we need to ban assault weapons and keep our young people safe.”