PARKLAND (CBSMiami) – Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 17 people died on Feb. 14, are kicking off their March For Our Lives statewide summer road tour in Parkland Friday.
“I miss them so much every single day but that’s what pushes me to get up every morning,” Lauren Hogg said.
She is part of March for Our Lives, a group dedicated to sensible gun legislation that sprang from the reaction to the violence on the Stoneman Douglas campus. She and others are embarking on what they call the Road to Change this summer — meeting with people across Florida to register voters, educate them and motivate them to vote in November. March for Our Lives is embarking on a national tour of 20 states and a companion Florida tour where they plan to visit each of Florida’s 27 Congressional districts to meet and talk with residents about the gun legislation issue.
“When we share our stories and we talk about our friends that we lost that day and our goals that we want to accomplish this summer, I think as November comes closer and people are thinking about the polls, they’re gonna have that emotional attachment and think, ‘I don’t want this happening to myself, to my children, to my friends,’” she said.
She also wants to dispel some misconceptions.
“We do not want to take your guns away,” she said. “All we want is sensible gun legislation so what happened to our friends doesn’t happen to your friends and family.”
Freshman Sam Deitsch also lost close friends on February 14th in the tragedy. She said the group is looking forward to meeting and talking with people on both sides of the gun debate.
“We’re not opposed to talking to the other side,” Deitsch said. “We want to hear both opinions. We want to understand why people think a certain way and we want people to understand why we think a certain way.”
Hogg is hopeful their actions will lead to change.
“If we don’t do it, who will do it?” she said. “I think there’s no better time than now. I know it sounds cheesy but I truly believe that.”
Known as the “Road to Change,” the statewide tour will take place in tandem with a larger 25-stop nationwide tour, which is already underway. Both road tours are aimed at getting young people educated, registered, and motivated to vote before the mid-term elections.
Students have also announced the schedule for the Florida tour, which will visit all 27 Congressional Districts in the state between now and August 1.
Here is the schedule:
- Friday, June 22: Parkland
- Saturday, June 23: Miami/Homestead
- Sunday, June 24: Miami
- Monday, June 25: Naples/Fort Myers
- Tuesday, June 26: Punta Gorda/Port Charlotte
- Wednesday, June 27: Sarasota
- Thursday, June 28: West Palm Beach/Wellington
- Friday, June 29: Fort Lauderdale/Miami Dade
- Saturday, June 30: Miramar/Belle Glade
- Sunday, July 1: Palm Beach
- Tuesday, July 3: Liberty City – Peace Party
- Friday, July 6: Tampa/Lakeland
- Saturday, July 7: Palm Harbor
- Sunday, July 8: Orlando
- Monday, July 9: Orlando
- Tuesday, July 10: Orlando/Palm Bay
- Wednesday, July 11: Kissimmee
- Thursday, July 12: St. Petersburg
- Friday, July 13: Orlando
- Saturday, July 14: Tampa
- Sunday, July 15: Daytona Beach
- Saturday, July 28: Tallahassee
- Sunday, July 29: Pensacola
- Monday, July 30: Panama City
- Tuesday, July 31: Jacksonville
- Wednesday, August 1: Gainesville
Student activists taking part in both tours are advocating for stricter gun control laws and registering young people to vote.
The nationwide tour is currently in Wisconsin.
The 60-day national tour began last week in Chicago and will make over 50 stops in more than 20 states.
Students, like 18-year-old Ryan Deitsch, are targeting communities rocked by gun violence or where lawmakers, supported by the National Rifle Association, are seeking office.
“We need to be able to live out the American dream and if were just being gunned down at 21 or younger we can’t,” said Deitsch. “It’s killing the future of this country.”
The students are partnering with Rock The Vote, Headcount, NAACP and Mi Familia Vota.
The students are calling for common-sense reforms that will save lives of more than 3,000 young people each year, including: implementing universal, comprehensive background checks; creating a searchable database for gun owners; funding the Centers for Disease Control to research gun violence so that reform policies are backed up by data; and banning high-capacity magazines and semi-automatic assault rifles.