On the very day where another school shooting shook the American public, and further enflamed a war of words over gun control, a group of South Pasadena High School students lent their voices to the roiling debate.
Members of the South Pasadena San Marino YMCA Delegation, who are preparing for the 65th Model Legislature and Court in Sacramento later this month, punctuated their points in front of classmates and parents Thursday night at Huntington Middle School in San Marino.
Standing behind a podium, and decked out in their best professional garb, students argued for and against bills sponsored and crafted by their peers. Legislative measures included bills to establish fact checking procedures for presidential campaign videos, and a mandatory number of energy storing elliptical machines in state prisons that non-violent inmates could use to reduce their sentences.
And then there was the gun bill.
Sponsored by South Pas student Adam LaBrie, Bill no. 248 would make the ownership of any gun illegal with special exemptions for active police and military personnel. And as for hunting, that would occur on state certified grounds and no gun on the property would carry more than one bullet at a time.
"Gun violence is not an issue. It is not a problem. It is an epidemic,'' LaBrie said.
Fellow gun control proponent Jeffery Burke, a student at The Waverly School in Pasadena, raised his fist toward the audience and thundered that the country is at rock bottom.
"It's time for us to look at the corpses that litter our country...and say enough,'' Burke said, referencing the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre where Adam Lanza fatally shot 20 children and six adults.
But forbidding law abiding citizens is not the answer, countered So Pas student Hannah Rips.
"A population that is unable to defend itself from its government is ultimately its slave,'' she said quoting from her speech, adding that tyranny is much less likely to happen in a country where its citizenship is armed.
The students will hone their arguments and debate each of the drafted bills from the floor of the Legislature in several weeks.