Hundreds of thousands of Americans across the nation marched for more gun regulation this Saturday. In Bethel, about 30 people joined the movement, carrying signs and walking the slushy shoulder of Chief Eddie Hoffman Highway. Most of those who took to the Bethel streets were students, teachers, school administrators, parents, and grandparents. Some remembered the school shooting in Bethel more than 20 years ago; the teenage students in the march have grown up amid the threat of mass shootings. KYUK brings you the voices of those marching in Bethel.
Amara Freeman: My name is Amara Freeman. I’m 17 years old, and I go to Bethel Regional High School. My sign says “Arming Teachers Is Normalizing School Shootings.” I’ve grown up in a society where gun violence is completely normalized, and it’s not acceptable, and too many people have died.
Kelly O’Brien: It [my sign] says “At 17 I have seen 192 school shootings. I refuse to see another.” I’m Kelly O’Brien. I’m 17 years old. I’m a senior at BRHS. I made this sign when we did the Student Walkout, and that number was 188. And since the Parkland School shooting there have been four more school shootings in the United States. So I’m marching for stricter gun laws and regulations, and just keeping students safe in school.
Gary Baldwin: I’m Gary Baldwin. I’ve got my little grandson here. He’s two. My hope is that he will go to schools that are safe. I worked for the school district for 34 years, and I think the school has done a lot to try to curb bullying, and I think that’s a result of what happened after the shooting. I’m a hunter and I use guns, but there’s no reason for assault rifles to be in the hands of anybody other than the army or the military.
Mike Hoffman: Mike Hoffman. I see it every day at our school, and we’re already practicing our shooting lockdowns and everything. I know I have four people who work in that school [Yuut Elitnaurviat and Kuskokwim Learning Academy] that were here during the school shooting 20 years ago, and just to watch their face when we started that whole process. I feel so sad for them, but it’s just something that unfortunately needs to be done in our lives today.
Josephine Davies: I’m Josephine Davies, retired teacher. People make this out to be an attack on the Second Amendment rather than what the real issue is, which is protecting the children and being sensible about laws.
Eli Barsy: I don’t like the idea of having weapons in schools, and I don’t like think teachers are the appropriate person to have weapons in schools. I’m Eli Barsy. I’m a teacher at KLA. We’ve got a problem with gun violence in our nation, and I think we need to take it seriously.
Nelson Davies: My name is Nelson Davies, and I’m the Legislative Officer here in Bethel. My sign says, “We Need And Demand Stricter Gun Safety Laws Now.” Reasonable laws. There’s no need for assault weapons on our streets. We had that one time in our country where it was banned, and we didn’t have what we have now. Since that law has sunset, we’ve had thousands of our young people slaughtered in the school, in our churches, and in their homes. And it’s time to invoke our better angels and do what’s right for our children and put a stop to it.
Amara Freeman: I hope that more people actually end up do start calling our senators and our Congress people, because you can only scream and shout so much. Until you actually call the lawmakers, nothing is going to change.
Kelly O’Brien: As soon as I am able to vote, and as soon as I turn 18, and I will register to vote, and I will contact all my representatives and senators and legislators.
Amara Freeman: So I hope that this march actually inspires people to call them.