LIHUE — Safer schools and gun reform are long overdue, says Maggie Lea.
“I think most can agree it can’t go on like this without change,” wrote the member of the Bishop’s Committee at Christ Memorial Episcopal Church in Kilauea, which is hosting Saturday’s North Shore March for Our Lives sign waving demonstration.
A large gathering is expected 10 a.m. to noon at the intersection near the Lihue Airport.
It is a sibling march to the national March for Our Lives movement started by the survivors of last month’s shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida that claimed 17 lives. Hundreds of rallies are scheduled across the country.
Kauai organizers are calling for people to join them.
“Please come out and lend your voice to ending gun violence in America,” wrote Emily Thomas, Island School, physical education. “We all have the right to live our lives in an environment free from the worry of guns being used against us. Children have the right to go to school in the morning with no fear. Parents have the right to drop their children off at school and know that they will see them alive at the end of the day.”
The student-led movement is asking Congress to pass legislation to ban the sale of assault weapons, prohibit the sale of high-capacity magazines and close the loophole in background check laws.
“These demands in no way threaten either hunting or a citizen’s right to self-defense, but if passed will with out a doubt lessen the incidence of school shootings and other mass shootings,” Thomas wrote. “The movement confirms the right of law-abiding Americans to keep and bear arms, as set forth in the United States Constitution, but recognizes that with that right comes responsibility and demands that Congress take action to ensure public safety.”
Lea said Hawaii has a chance to be a model for the nation as it is in the top 10 in the U.S. for gun ownership.
Forty-five percent of Hawaii residents own a gun, she said, which is above the national average. Yet, the state is usually rated as among the safest state in the nation in terms of gun deaths and gun violence.
“This is because we are number four in having the most gun regulation laws in place following, California, Massachusetts, and Connecticut, with 78 enforced gun laws in Hawaii as of October 2017,” Lea wrote. “It shows you can keep the public and schools safe with proper laws regulating gun ownership and possession.”
Lea, a retired school and educational psychologist with 31 years experience in California public schools, said there is a need for more mental health workers and other programs in schools to build trust and keep communication open between students and staff.
“Let Hawaii lead the way and let’s stand up for the future generations who with our help can lead us all to a safer society,” Lea wrote. “It is their time to lead as we follow their firsthand experience of what it has been like to be the ‘Mass Shooting Generation.’”