Parkland Students Visit San Diego to Advocate for Tougher Gun Laws

Julia Cordover remembers Feb. 14 well. It was a day that changed her life as well as the nation.

"Feb. 14, Valentine's Day. Beautiful day," the 18-year-old said. "Skies are blue."

She was headed to Majorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida as usual, but the day would end up being anything but usual.

"I would say chocolate roses smelled and filled the rooms of most of the classrooms," she said.

But not for long. A gunman, a former student at the school, walked on campus just after noon that day and started shooting.

"It was a constant bang, bang, bang," Cordover said. "I get a text from my friend that says, 'There is a shooter, it shot through our classroom and I think one of our friends is dead."

By the end of the day, 17 were killed — 14 students and three staff members — and 17 more wounded.

On Thursday, Cordover and a group of students from Parkland were in San Diego advocating for tougher gun laws.

"Now is my opportunity to speak out and say, 'Enough is enough,' Cordover said. "We are done with innocent lives being lost to gun violence."

They were at private a home in La Jolla to start a dialogue about gun control with people from both sides of the political spectrum. They wanted to make their case for gun reform and mental health awareness.

Stoneman Douglas senior Kai Koerber even started his own nonprofit, Societal Reform Corporation, to improve mental health education in schools.

"It's the way I cope with all of the things that I've gone through," he said. "If I wake up every morning and I feel like I'm doing the right thing and pushing the right agendas and pushing the right kind of change, it makes me feel like I'm doing something and the world is becoming a better place."

In all, four Parkland students spoke at the event Thursday organized by La Jolla Community Members, the Brady Campaign, a gun-reform nonprofit group, and others. 

The students, however, are aware of the criticism they face. They said they are not trying to take anyone's guns away. They just want to create a conversation about preventing gun violence.

"There are things that need to be fixed," Cordover said. "And that we can both agree on. There are obviously mass shootings that happen way too often and that needs to be fixed."

In a twist of irony, on the day the teens gave their talks in San Diego, another shooting occurred at a Maryland warehouse where four people were killed, including the shooter.

The San Diego County Gun Owners Rights Group declined to comment on the story.

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