Dozens of Grand County High School students joined the nationwide walkout in support of gun control and school safety on Wednesday, March 14. [Photo by Rudy Herndon / Moab Sun News]

For dozens of local students, enough is enough.

One month to the day after a lone gunman killed 17 people at a high school in Florida, Moab-area students joined their peers across the country on organized school walkouts in support of gun control and school safety.

The local walkouts, which began at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, March 14, lasted for a symbolic 17 minutes, as students paused for a moment of silence to remember the victims from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. They continued as students and even some school staffers at Grand County Middle School and Grand County High School made the case for – and against – regulations on the sale of weapons like the one the Parkland killer used.

Grand County High School senior Tyler Moreau said that Americans need to “face the facts” that they can’t solve a gun-related problem by throwing more guns at it.

“Every other place in the world realizes it: Gun control (equals) lower gun violence,” Moreau said. “It’s proven again and again, so I’m just going to say it: We need to cut down on guns – especially automatic ones – that’s just common sense.”

In the month since the shooting in Parkland, GCHS junior Kai Wainer said he’s heard only about the need for stronger gun control regulations in schools, when the issue extends far beyond those campuses.

“But the problem with that is that we’re trying to fix a broken system,” Wainer said. “The problem goes deeper or higher up than just our schools. You cannot fix what we’re trying to do by the way we’re trying to fix it.”

That change starts higher up, he said, and “not even every single weapon” needs to be banned.

“But if your argument is you need it for hunting, then let’s ban everything but hunting rifles, or make it harder for someone to get a weapon,” Wainer said. “It doesn’t change anything for you if you’re a law-abiding, normal citizen who can still own a weapon.”

The age limit to buy guns should be raised, he said, and lawmakers should make it harder for people to buy weapons.

“This is a high number of shootings that we have seen, and every time (afterward), nothing happens; it’s like, we need to make some sort of change,” he said. “Obviously, something is wrong and something needs to happen.”

Walkout attendees heard a different perspective from GCHS automotive instructor John Lindsay, who told the crowd that guns are “just a vehicle for a bad person” who wants something bad to happen. A person who’s driven by that determination could just as easily come after people with a hammer, a car or a bomb, he said.

“If you take away the guns, we’re going to actually repeat history back like in the Holocaust, back in Germany with Hitler,” Lindsay said. “That’s why we have (the Second Amendment), OK? It’s not just the guns for war; it’s to keep our freedom and our liberty, and if you don’t understand that part of it, you’re going to lose the whole thing, because the only people that aren’t going to have the guns are the law-abiding citizens.”

Criminals, on the other hand, will find any kind of weapon they can, Lindsay said, if they’re determined to “destroy” someone.

“I don’t care what laws you put out there – laws are broken all the time,” he said. “So think of it: It’s deeper than that … We as humans should be thinking about the sanctity of life; how important it is.”

Student Tayson Wilson joined the walkout to hear what others had to say, although no one changed his mind on the issue: His family enjoys target shooting and hunting, and Wilson said he shares Lindsay’s views.

“I do not support gun control, myself,” he said.

Whether they’re for or against gun control, GCHS Assistant Principal Mary Marable suggested that students can follow a tip from their peers elsewhere and treat others the way they want to be treated: with respect.

“It’s really about valuing each other – even our differences,” she said.

In honor of the Parkland victims, Marable encouraged students to do 17 “nice things” that day.

“Even if it’s just a smile and saying, ‘Hey,’ do something 17 times that makes you feel good because you’re helping someone else,” she said.

GCHS employee Steve Kahn encouraged students to be aware of their surroundings – and to help him by keeping the school’s doors closed.

“As the guy that opens this place up for you every morning, every morning I make sure every one of the lockdown doors are locked, so that if a lockdown happens, it’s successful,” Kahn said. “And every time somebody walks through a (doorway) and puts a pebble in it so they can get back in, that’s a way somebody can get in and do something they’re not supposed to do.”

Castle Valley resident Linda Skogrand was the first person to arrive at the high school walkout, and as she waited for the students to stream out of the building, she said that the young advocates are a source of inspiration for her.

“I think it’s amazing that young people are taking the lead,” she told the Moab Sun News.

School shootings were not phenomena that she had to think about when she was growing up – or even when her now-40-something kids were in school.

“Not until people started getting killed all the time,” she said.

Skogrand said she’s not against guns at all, noting that her husband – who used to hunt – owns some.

“But guns that can shoot multiple people in a minute are just not necessary for people to have in public,” she said.

Congress is unlikely to take meaningful action on controlling the sale of assault-type weapons during its current session, she said. But in the future, she’s hopeful that younger generations will shape the debates over the issue.

“It’s going to take these kids voting,” Skogrand said.

Dozens pause to remember Parkland victims one month after mass shooting

I think it’s amazing that young people are taking the lead.