19 students from across LA meet with mayor, suggest citywide gun reform campaign

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Nineteen students from different high schools and backgrounds in Los Angeles had a unique opportunity to tell Mayor Eric Garcetti how they feel about gun violence and gun control.

"We're the people who are actually in the schools. The people who are actually affected by these shootings that happened," said Ben Holtzman, a student at Hamilton High School.

On Tuesday, the meeting fell on the eve of the National School Walkout, a demonstration one month after 17 people were gunned down at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

The students want Congress to pass federal laws closing loopholes in the 72-hour waiting period to buy a gun and to require background checks at gun shows. They also believe the focus in school should be on mental health.

"I think that we need more counselors on campus that reach out to students who may be at-risk," said Mikala Nellum, a student at Chatsworth High School.

The teens recognize how their actions play a role in prevention and that kindness is key.

"We recognize the importance of just lending a helping hand and just speaking to someone whom you've never spoken to before, and how those small things can have a large impact," said Danielle Rawles, a student at Westchester High School.

So how can the city help? The teenagers suggested a campaign similar to what's been done about the drought and human trafficking.

"We don't have a citywide campaign that is specifically about gun violence these days. So, I take that challenge and I embrace it because I learned that, I heard that from these students. Together, with the school board, I would love to be a part of that," Garcetti said.

The students all plan to take part in the national walkout, which happens at 10 a.m. Wednesday across all time zones. They said it's an opportunity to get others involved and that it's not a moment but a movement.
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