Speakers at the rally included three students from Newtown, Conn.
Matthew Soto recalled that his sister Victoria, a teacher, went to Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, 2012, planning to build gingerbread houses with her first-grade students. “But that was cut short,” he said. A gunman entered the school, killing 26 people, including his sister, 27 years old. And five years later, he said, little has changed.
“Too many times has gunfire been ringing through the hallways of schools across this country,” said Soto, who was 15 when his sister was killed. “Too many schools, too many churches, too many movie theaters, too many neighborhoods, too many homes. Enough is enough.”
Soto was followed by two other students, Tommy Murray and Jackson Mittleman, now juniors at Newtown High School.
Murray was a sixth-grader and was neighbors with the gunman, Adam Lanza, 20, who also killed his mother, Nancy, and himself.
“It was one of the worst days in my life,” he said. Now, “The entire Parkland community is shattered the way our town was shattered after the massacre.”
Mittleman remembered being on lockdown for five hours. He remembered the rallies, the lobbying — and how five years later, little has changed. “The Sandy Hook shooting should have been the last one in our nation,” he said.
Despite their frustration with lawmakers who have declined to ban assault weapons or require universal background checks for gun buyers as they had previously lobbied for, the trio said they feel a new sense of hope from the activism spurred by the students from Parkland, Fla.
“We are inspired by your fight for change,” Soto said. “We can’t change the past, but we can fight to change and build a better future.”