CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) – Friday afternoon, University of North Carolina students stood together on campus in Chapel Hill with signs in hand while chanting, “No more silence, end gun violence!”
Students with UNC March for Our Lives organized the demonstration to encourage everyone to take action and register to vote for this November’s election.
“The goal is to send a message that the young people of America really care about gun violence. It affects us and we really want practical, real solutions to it,” Vice President of the student-led group, Luke Diasio, said.
Diasio said supporting lawmakers and voting is just one step that people can do to help the issue.
Students took a moment during the rally to remember the many victims of gun violence, as well as the five victims that were killed during the mass shooting in Raleigh on Thursday.
“If we don’t start implementing policy to dramatically change the way we treat guns in America, these incidents are just going to keep happening,” Diasio said.
Amie Boakye, a UNC freshman, said she’s experienced the impact of gun violence.
The freshman was one of several students who spoke during the event.
Boakye shared her terrifying memory of when she ran with others in a crowd after hearing gunshots at the Kentucky State Fair about four years ago.
“I remember looking up what happened the next morning and they had found shell casing from bullets, just knowing you went through that and you were there,” she said.
Boakye said she still gets emotional while thinking back on the experience. She said it was important for her to be there to support students on campus Friday.
Students with UNC March for Our Lives said the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act that passed earlier in the year helped make changes to the mental health system, school safety programs and gun safety laws. Students said it was a major step moving forward, but their work is not done.
Additionally, UNC freshman, Adigi Dumpala, who also came to show her support, said it’s unfortunate that gun violence is something that’s become too common for her and her peers.
“We grew up with the drastic rise of gun violence that came through especially in our high school years. We saw Parkland, we saw Uvalde at the very end… Now we’re at the age where we can vote and make a difference,” she said, noting she was in first grade when the Sandy Hook tragedy happened.