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Photos: Youth Activists Continue Work Against Gun Violence

High school youth activists in the Twin Cities are focusing this year on reducing local gun violence.
Last year, the group responded to the Parkland, Fla., shooting by speaking and marching on legislative issues.

Normal West Junior Gavin Cunningham said this year they want to look at the causes of gun violence among young people including having healthy social outlets.

Gavin Cunningham and Allie Beam
Credit Charlie Schlenker / WGLT
Gavin Cunningham and Allie Beam are among the organizers of the second annual March For Our Lives.

"Whether that's having certain activities and realizing that there is more to do and taking a path other than gun violence. There are so many other options that young adults need to be able to see," said Cunningham.

Bloomington-Normal Youth Activists rallied Friday outside the McLean County Museum of History for the second straight year.

Last year happened following the high school shootings in Parkland. This year's event happened in the wake of the mass killing of Muslims in New Zealand.

Cunningham said a day after those shootings, New Zealand had proposed a bill to ban the kind of weapons used there, though the killer owned them legally.

"I'm not saying we should outlaw all kinds of weapons. We're looking at mass shootings and weapons that can kill a large number of people at once. I think we need to take a second look at those kinds of weapons," said Cunningham.

BNYA also want to address poverty relief. And Allie Beam, a senior at University High School, said stronger background checks will also help reduce gun violence.

That's something U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis has contested in the past. The Taylorville Republican has said no recent mass shooting would have been prevented by universal background checks.

Beam said there is no cure all to the problem of gun violence. But she said background checks will make a difference.

"We're not going to have one specific piece of legislation or one specific thing that we do in our society that will stop gun violence because right now it is so prevalent issue that we're not going to be able to stop it with one thing. But, it's about continuing to work and continuing that fight so that one day we will be able to say that gun violence isn't something that people need to fear any more," said Beam.

Cunningham said he believes the bulk of the U.S. population wants a consensus in the middle between the individual right to bear arms under the Second Amendment and the right to have public safety.

Hear Charlie Schlenker's interview with Bloomington Normal Youth Activists Allie Beam of U-High and Gavin Cunningham of Normal West.

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WGLT News Director Charlie Schlenker grew up in Rock Island and graduated from Augustana College. He has spent more than three decades in radio.