The group will be called “Stand With Parkland” and also will be known as the National Association of Families for Safe Schools.
The purpose of the group is to find “middle ground solutions to gun violence” in schools. It was founded by the families who lost loved ones in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting on Valentines Day this year which left 17 dead and 17 injured.
“We’d like to energize the ideological middle of the country,” said Tony Montalto, the father of Parkland victim Gina Montalto.
“The fringes have had a lot of voice and a lot of power out there,” he added. “What we need is to get everybody to have a respectful discussion, come up with a compromise, and then take that final step of taking that compromise and making it actionable, whether it be law or public policy.”
They have a website which can be found at standwithparkland.org. On the website it says:
“As the parents and spouses of the victims of the senseless violence in Parkland, we are committed to advocating for public safety reforms focused on the safety of our children and staff at school.”
“Join us as a member of STAND WITH PARKLAND, and we will come together as an American family to stand strong against violence in our schools and end this American epidemic.”
Debbie Hixon, the wife of Chris Hixon, a teacher who was killed, said there are some differences among the family members on how best to address the issue of gun violence. But she also said that there is general agreement on three key things:
- insuring school safety,
- providing mental health screening and
- ensuring responsible firearms ownership.
“As families of people that have been failed by a number of different issues, we all came together agreeing on three basic principles that we thought needed to change so that other families would not have to endure what we had to endure,” Hixon said.
“We all have different views … but that really is the three core things that all 17 families agree on.”
The families will engage in various lobbying and advocacy efforts at local, state and federal levels under the name “Stand With Parkland” Montalto said.
Some Parkland student survivors launched a nationwide movement called March For Our Lives, which is touring the country this summer advocating for gun control. The leaders of Stand With Parkland say they support what the March For Our Lives people are doing, but the two groups are independent of each other and are not affiliated in any way.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.