Hundreds pack Olathe church for student-led March For Our Lives event

OLATHE, Kan. -- Hundreds of people packed a Johnson County Church for a student led town hall with a focus on gun reform. The event took place Saturday afternoon at the Saint Andrew Christian Church in Olathe. The event follows last months March For Our Lives and is an effort by students and groups across the country to fight for to change gun laws.

Seven congressional candidates attended the town hall answering questions about gun control, and addressing a host of other topics including immigration reform, healthcare policy, and education issues.

At the end of the speaker's panel, sat a cardboard cutout of Kansas 3rd District Congressman Kevin Yoder. Many were critical of the fact that he did not attend this event, despite being personally invited by organizers.

“He’s not been to a town hall in a very very long time and those town halls are meant for the candidates and the people already in the House of Representatives to see what their people want, and if they don’t go to them they don’t know what their people want,” said Quinn Patel, a 15-year-old freshman who attends Olathe East High School and helped organize this event.

Representative Kevin Yoder’s office issued this statement about the local Town Hall For Our Lives event:

“These students absolutely have the right to have their voices heard, but Saturday’s last minute event will by hijacked by forces that want to politicize this tragedy and use it as a political wedge issue. Kevin is more than happy to meet with these students to continue a community discussion about what changes in policies would create a meaningful impact on their safety. Their voices have significant value in this debate and he looks forward to hearing their perspective.

“Turning a serious, important issue into a political rally is the wrong approach to solving our nation’s toughest problems. Since the Parkland shooting, Kevin’s been focused on solutions like lifting the ban on gun violence research at the CDC, enhancing the background check system, new funding for armed resource officers and other deterrents, and getting new regulations banning bump stock devices. As he’s said, doing nothing is not an option. And Congress has followed through with action.”

In an email to FOX4 News, a representative from Yoder’s office also added:

“Yoder has been meeting with school administrators, teachers, security personnel and other constituent groups on this issue including a recent meeting with a Columbine parent and survivor,”