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Parkland students bring gun reform message to Kansas City on nationwide tour

KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Student activists calling for gun reform brought their message to the metro Monday evening.

The town hall format was part of the March for Our Lives “Road to Change” national tour; it’s an initiative to educate communities about gun violence and encourage young people to vote.

“I think as long as we see change and lives saved, that’s good enough for me,” one student panelist said.

Sofie Whitney is one of several young people on the tour. She's a survivor of the high school shooting in Parkland, Florida, where 17 people were killed in February.

“There are a lot of communities that are affected by gun violence that don’t get the kind of attention that my school got, and we realize that’s not OK,” Whitney said.

Parkland students speak in KCK

The group wants to see universal background checks, a gun registration, funding for gun violence research and to oust politicians who take money from gun lobbyists, such as the National Rifle Association. Their 50-plus city tour is partly focused to cities where politicians are backed by the NRA.

“If we’re going to be affected by these policies, by all these politicians that don’t seem to do much, then we’re going to vote for people that represent us,” Whitney said.

U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder serves the district where the town hall was held, inside the Reardon Convention Center. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Yoder received $34,050 from gun rights lobbyists during the 2016 election year.

Yoder issued the following statement to FOX4:

“Keeping our children safe is always at the top of my mind. It's why I’ve voted recently for measures that have been signed into law to strengthen background checks to keep firearms out of the hands of dangerous criminals, reinforce school security, and allow CDC to study gun violence. I was one of the first Republicans in Congress to call for a ban on bump stocks, and was glad to see the Administration follow through with executive action. To continue the ongoing discussion, I’ve also put together a community task force to share ideas and perspectives from across the political spectrum to improve the safety of all our children. Students have an important voice in this discussion and I hope they continue to be involved in our political process.”

Ann Griffiths, who attended the town hall, was a teacher for 30 years and said she believes gun rights groups don’t want gun reform and the politicians influenced by the organizations don’t speak up.

“I think we are living under terrorism from the NRA because they don’t want anything changed," Griffiths said. “There just needs to be more regulations, sensibility to owning a gun, and it seems as if those people who have received money from the NRA don’t speak up against it.”

Students on the “Road to Change” tour plan to continue the dialogue for coming months. They will be in Omaha on Tuesday.

“You may not be old enough to vote, but you’re old enough to speak your mind and get people that do vote, to listen to you,” Whitney said.

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