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17 for Change

Stoneman Douglas students, officials announce new organization taking on gun lobbyists

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CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. (WPEC) - Following the March for Our Lives initiative, a new organization dedicated to taking on the gun lobby was announced Wednesday by Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students, elected officials and others in Coral Springs.

17forchange.com is a new website dedicated to pushing for sensible gun laws and the lawmakers who support it. On the site, the organization outlines the laws it seeks to change and also highlights plans to mobilize voters and volunteers during election season.

Several Stoneman Douglas students spoke about their passion for making schools safer following the death of 17 of their own in the Feb. 14 Parkland shooting. Among the attendees was Lori Alhadeff, the mother of victim Alyssa Alhadeff.

“On Valentine’s Day, my daughter Alyssa Alhadeff was brutally shot down in her English class as she tried to learn,” Alhadeff said. "I lost my daughter but the world lost one of the great ones."

Alhadeff also read a poem dedicated to her daughter, who Alhadeff said was shot 10 times. Alyssa's mother also announced the launch of her own organization aimed at enhancing best safety practices at schools across the country.

She was surrounded by a number of local high school students Wednesday, who all want to make sure something like this never happens again. MSD students at the event, like Zack Hitchman, made it clear they will not lose momentum.

“After a lot of these terrible tragedies such as Sandy Hook, the Las Vegas shooting and the Pulse nightclub, uproar lasts for about two weeks and then fizzles out. That’s not us. That’s not MSD. Us students are going to fight until we get change,” Hitchman said.

These students want people to know that just because they cannot vote does not mean they can not make a difference. Grant Golin, a 10th-grader from Cooper City, said they will not stop until they see change.

“It makes me feel powerful, even though I’m two years away from voting. It gives me a push. It makes me want to go forward. It makes me want to fight for what’s right,” Golin said.

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Several local leaders also announced their support of this initiative, including former state Sen. and current Coral Springs Mayor Walter "Skip" Campbell.

"This is not a Democrat, Republican issue -- this is a people issue," Campbell said.

He went on to highlight his push for an amendment to ban assault weapons by 2020. He says his plan will require signatures to help make it a reality.

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