St. Louis-area students speak out on school safety debate following Florida school shooting | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis-area students speak out on school safety debate following Florida school shooting

Feb 23, 2018

High school students in St. Louis are lending their voice to the national debate about making schools safer.

On Friday morning, a few dozen student from Clayton High School trudged across a soggy field in front of their school and called for an assault-weapons ban in Missouri and money for security upgrades to schools.

Last week, 17 people were killed by a former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Since then, students who survived and peers at schools across the country have called for new gun-control measures.

“At any moment, someone could walk into our school, C.H.S., with a fully loaded assault weapon and take the lives of students and faculty before I could even blink an eye,” said Catriona Docherty, a junior at the school.

Docherty and some of her classmates have spent this week researching school violence and Missouri gun laws. She and others are calling for an outright ban on assault weapons in the state.

Yet senior Hayley Bridges said she just wants her school to be a place where she feels safe.

“I have to look over my shoulder almost every day to make sure one of my fellow Clayton High School members doesn’t pull out a gun,” she said.

Hayley Bridges, a senior at Clayton High School, reflects after saying school is one place where she should not have to worry about a shooting. She and dozens of other students walked out of the school Friday to call for gun-control measures.
Credit Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Students seemed split on whether more guns should be in schools to defend against and deter a shooting rampage.

“The idea that I or anyone else should get a gun in order to protect myself doesn’t make me feel any safer,” said Margaret Baugh, a senior.

But a few minutes later, senior student Neel Vallurupalli told the crowd that a few vetted and highly trained faculty members should be armed.

“I think that could be useful to mitigate the damage done by school shooters, and a deterrent,” he said.

President Donald Trump has raised the issue of arming teachers who are experienced with firearms, such as veterans. National teachers' unions oppose arming teachers. Trump has pledged to enact ways to make school buildings safer.

Students at Parkway Central High School held a similar event late Friday afternoon, where several students say they've talked about safety in class in recent days.

Follow Ryan on Twitter: @rpatrickdelaney