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Central Visual and Performing Arts High School students rally at Capitol for gun control

Students from Central Visual and Performing Arts High School gather on the third floor rotunda at the Missouri Capitol on Tuesday.
Sarah Kellogg
St. Louis Public Radio
Students from Central Visual and Performing Arts High School gather in the third-floor rotunda at the Missouri Capitol on Tuesday. They were there to talk to lawmakers about gun control legislation they would like to see passed and to showcase their artwork.

Students from Central Visual and Performing Arts High School in St. Louis gathered in the Missouri Capitol on Tuesday to push for gun control measures four months after a shooting at the school killed a student and a teacher.

Bryanna Love spoke from a letter they wrote in anticipation of the Capitol visit.

“Since the tragedy, I've put a great deal of time and effort into studying gun laws nationally, internationally and locally,” Love said. “I've put so much energy into dissecting political jargon and formulating the best way to appeal to lawmakers and voters until I realized how bizarre it was that I was doing this in the first place.”

As far as what legislation students want lawmakers to pass, red flag laws repeatedly were brought up.

“If that law was in place, then it could have prevented what happened to us on Oct. 24,” Mars Sander said.

Police were called by the attacker’s family to confiscate a gun from him before the shooting but were unable to do so because they didn’t have the authority.

Under red flag laws, also called extreme risk protection orders, individuals would be allowed to petition to a judge for the temporary removal of a person’s guns if they appear to be a risk to themselves or others.

The passage of a red flag law and any gun control measures have so far faced resistance from Republican lawmakers as well as Gov. Mike Parson.

As to what they want to say to lawmakers who are reluctant to pass gun regulations, April Shepard said the students should not have to come to Jefferson City to tell lawmakers how to do their job.

“I feel like if you are against this right now, what's happening right now, you should be more embarrassed than everybody else. Because children shouldn't have to die for you to finally realize that we have a problem,” Shepard said.

Jaylen Washington hopes that speaking face-to-face with some lawmakers on the issue will help change their minds.

“I think you feel our emotion more. I feel like it's more of a heart-to-heart. I feel like you get to actually see how scared I am now,” Washington said.

Several students talked about how the shooting has reshaped their lives.

One of those students, Jaiyana Stallworth, recounted a recent event at CVPA when the fire alarm went off. She said it reminded her and her classmates of the shooting.

“Just seeing that whole scene really made me like realize, God, we've all lived through this and we're all impacted and that's just something that we shouldn't have to do,” Stallworth said.

Looking to the future, Ranaiyah Cole said her career path possibly has been changed.

“I'm now thinking about majoring in political science so I can try to make these changes at least for the next generation, the changes that might or might not be made for us right now,” Cole said.

Sarah Kellogg has been the Missouri Statehouse and politics reporter for St. Louis Public Radio since 2021.

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