Local youths stands up and speaks out

Charlotte, Hannah and Audrey are outstanding young ladies serving the community.

by Jennifer Tipton

Hannah Yale age 15, Charlotte Steiger age 16 and Audrey Feist age 15 attended the City Council meeting March 26th with the invitation of Councilmember Cheryl Heitmann.

Heitmann along with Mayor Erik Nasarenko and Councilmember Matt LaVere planned to propose a policy to support stronger federal gun control legislation and to provide the Centers for Disease Control (C.D.C.) with freedom and funds to research gun violence.

Hannah, Charlotte and Audrey, all students at Foothill Technology High spoke at the City Council meeting that evening and after interviewing them it was apparent that these sophomores really did their homework!

Hannah tells me the C.D.C is currently prohibited from researching anything that could promote gun control since 1996 because of the “Dickey Amendment”. She goes on to describe the policy they proposed, “it will oppose legislation that weakens California’s ability to propose and enforce gun legislation separate from the federal level”. And not originally on the policy, but added after Hannah’s presentation at City Hall, it will raise the minimum age of gun ownership to 21 instead of 18 and yes, Hannah agrees she will consider a career in politics.

Councilmembers approved the policy unanimously, now the City Manager will communicate to state and federal representatives and from there it goes to California lawmakers.

Audrey said, “it’s very empowering to finally get a chance to speak out! I’m interested in gun control because I see these videos of kids and adults affected by gun violence and it personally resonates with me”. She describes how scary it was when students at Foothill heard of a shooter at the Starbucks just around the corner.

The girls said they used to do earthquake drills at school and practice getting under their desks, but now they are having gun lockdown drills where they are taught to hide and find a shield.

Charlotte tells me, “I’m interested in gun control because I’m from Chicago where there are a lot of gangs, shootings and police brutality, I don’t want to see my second hometown (Ventura) destroyed by guns”.

I asked the girls what their solution is to gun violence and Hannah quickly spoke, “it’s not taking away guns or to repeal the second amendment, that’s a big misconception! We don’t want to take the guns away, just regulate them.”

Charlotte added, “The first step is bigger restrictions, the second step is background checks and healthcare issues, especially mental health, it’s been very neglected in this country.”

Lastly, I asked them why they think gun violence has become much more rampant despite lesser restrictions from years past – what has changed?

Charlotte responded without hesitation, “society has changed!” Audrey added, “and guns have evolved!”

The three have coordinated a walkout on April 20th, students from Foothill High will leave their classrooms at 10 am and walk to City Hall, there they will thank council members and the community for their support. “We want to raise awareness and encourage people to be active in making a change”, said Hannah. Plans are for microphones and bullhorns. Free pizza will be provided by Pizza Saves and Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson will be one of the speakers.

How do the teachers feel about them leaving school?

There is a lot of division they said, one teacher said she’d walk out with them (if she wouldn’t get fired) and another is assigning an essay, so her students can’t go.

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