Concerns over gun violence brings Westchester students to a roundtable

WHITE PLAINS, Westchester County (WABC) -- Congresswoman Nita Lowey joined high school students, civic leaders and law enforcement officers from Westchester County in a roundtable discussion on efforts to prevent gun violence Friday.

"It's time for us to do something about it," she said.

One of the goals was for children to be able to express their concerns and idea.

"It's important that we speak up and speak out," said Frank Williams, executive director of the City of White Plains Youth Bureau. "And it's important that we listen to our young people."

Already, many have formed strong opinions about issues of gun control, assault weapons and the suggestion of arming teachers.

"I think if the teacher is trained well and undergoes a mental evaluation, and they can prove they are capable of handling a gun, they should totally be allow to," one student said.

Another disagreed.

"Arming teachers, I really believe it is unsafe," the student said. "And it will just scare students more than we already are."

Several police officers participated in the discussion.

"This is what we signed up for, to protect," one officer said.

Many students said the presence of officers would be a calming force.

"I do personally feel safer knowing that there are officers who are well trained, and they signed up for this, in the building," a student said.

They also talked about gun control, especially the AR-15 that the shooter in Florida allegedly used to kill 17 people.

"Change needs to start with the people buying guns," one student said. "What guns they can buy and who can buy guns."

Others had questions as to why it was so easy for the suspect shooter to purchase his guns legally.

"How are we letting these weapons of war get into the hands of our civilians?" a student asked.

One law enforcement officer believed any potential ban would backfire.

"In my personal opinion, the second you put a very strict ban on anything, it immediately becomes desirable on the black market," the officer said.

Kevin O'Neill was one of several students who reached out to Representative Lowey with his concerns.

"I would have thought by now our government would have done something, but clearly they haven't done anything about this," he said. "That's why I wanted to speak out."

It was a sharing of many ideas and opinions, and learning from each other.

"It's great to educate and inspire these kids to be proactive themselves and be in survival mode," White Plains school resource officer Gilbert Lopez said.

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