Congressman Tonko meets with local students to discuss gun violence, walkouts

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COLONIE, N.Y. (NEWS10) – How to solve gun violence continues to be the question surrounding politics in our country, especially after the shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida.

One local congressman took on this topic at a town hall for students. He was invited to the event and was more than happy to accept the invitation, as he wanted to hear from those taking part in a movement sweeping the nation.

Congressman Paul Tonko (D – 20th District) listened to concerns from students from across the Capital Region at Shaker High School, wanting to hear from the people behind a movement sweeping the nation.

This all came together after the latest shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida.

Some topics that came up in the discussion included putting more police in schools, as well as arming teachers.

Other students brought up the issues of mental health and banning assault rifles.

They told NEWS10 ABC, just speaking to Tonko is a start to making a difference.

“I think that the idea of them saving the day is a fantasy,” said Shaker junior, Abbi Olivieri.

Strong words from Olivieri on the idea of arming teachers in schools.

“Personally that makes me more scared to come to school,” Olivieri said. “People have just been spreading rumors and making the problem worse, and I’m truly afraid to come to school,”

The Shaker High School junior is passionate about solving the issue of gun violence plaguing the the country. So, she along with more than 100 students packed the Shaker High School gym sharing their opinions about gun violence and the changes they want to see in the country.

One student said, “It seems as if my entire life I’ve been watching politicians functioning as puppets controlled by the hands of the NRA.”

Hearing student’s views was important for Tonko, as they’re the people sparking a new conversation about gun safety.

“They’re leading a nation right now in dialogue and that’s the first step in developing reform,” Tonko said.

He feels more than ever that their movement will initiate change.

“This is going to be the brink that eclipses us from the past.,” Tonko said.

But, some adults wanted to make sure Tonko listened to them as well. They are concerned that students talking about gun control, don’t know the history behind the Second Amendment.

“I want everybody to have their right like I have my right,” said one of the adults.

“The Second Amendment was written when you could shoot one bullet. You would have to put the bullet back in and it would take a good amount of time and then shoot someone again. This wasn’t when you could kill 17 people in five minutes,” said Kaelyn DiCocco, junior at Schalmont High School.

No matter what others think, she feels students will make a difference.

“Not doing anything, is just not going to get anywhere,” Olivieri said.

NYS Assemblyman Phil Steck (D – 110th District) also took part in the discussion.

Tonko said according to the CDC, on average 96 Americans are killed with guns every day; with seven of them being children or teens.

He believes it’s amazing to see these students coming together and that he will take their concerns to Washington, D.C.

Although he wants the change, Tonko said reform won’t just happen in a day.

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