Hello senators and representatives.
My name is Adah Bryan, I am a freshman at Classical High School, and I am here to represent students from Providence High Schools. We, who in an act of defiance against what we feel are an abhorrent lack of laws regulating firearms in our country and in our state, walked out of school on Friday the 23rd to come to the Rhode Island State House. Our small group is working to make our voices heard on this very relevant and critical issue in today’s society, as a part of larger movement of young people throughout the country. In light of past events, we feel now more than ever that our voices deserve to be heard and militarized weapons of war to be banned. This issue is one that affects people across the country. We hope that you take into account our opinions and emotions regarding this topic.
I was nine years old when the Sandy Hook shooting occurred. I clearly remember the shooter’s mugshot was on all the magazines in the grocery store checkout line. On the day of the shooting, the principal explained what had happened over the loudspeaker, that kids our own age and younger had been gunned down in their classrooms. During the lock down that followed, I remember being scared for my own life- I was in the third grade. I was twelve years old for the San Bernardino shooting. I was thirteen when 49 people were brutally killed at Pulse Nightclub. I was fourteen when a gunman opened fire in Las Vegas, killing 58 citizens. I saw pictures of people cowering behind bushes and running past bodies in order to escape the bullets raining down around them. And after coming home from school, on Valentine’s Day, I cried for the latest massacre, the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, that took 17 lives.
The Saturday edition of the Providence Journal covered our walkout and put us on their website, where people could comment. One comment caught my eye. In many ways it echoed the backlash against the many students fighting to make their voices heard across the country. We’re being called pawns, puppets, even child actors. We are too young to make our own choices, our own opinions, we’re too young to know what we’re talking about. Let me say, I am not a pawn. We are not pawns. I haven’t lived long, but still many times throughout my childhood I have seen shootings, mass murder, and mass death broadcasted on the news. When I say I want stronger gun control, I’m not a kid who doesn’t have enough information. I’m a young adult who has seen these things over and over again, Marjory Stoneman Douglas just being the last. We are not pawns, I am not a puppet. I’m speaking for me, I’m speaking exactly what I feel, exactly what I think. I think action needs to be taken, and I think laws need to be passed.
2,227 people have already been killed by guns since 2018 began and we are only 56 days into this year. On average, every day, 96 Americans are killed by guns. Seven of those are children and teens. There are on average 13,000 gun homicides a year in the United States. It saddens us to think that this is the country we live in. It saddens us to think that we haven’t done something about this issue already. How many lives will our lack of laws take before we take action? As a state, we need to work to solve this problem. Passing this bill, banning assault rifles, is the first step to a safer Rhode Island. Don’t let us be the next Parkland, the next Sandy Hook, the next Columbine. Pass this bill to save the lives of individuals all across Rhode Island.
Thank you for your time and consideration.