By Connor Beach
A Long Island student group hosted a rally that drew hundreds Sunday to urge passage of “common sense gun laws.”
The event began with a 15-minute march up Oakwood Road that ended at Breezy Park where students, government officials and family members of two victims of the recent mass shooting in Parkland, Florida took the stage to address the crowd.
The event was organized by Students Against Gun Violence Long Island, the Long Island chapter of March for Our Lives and Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Huntington). Many of the attendees wore orange and carried signs decorated with messages supporting gun control legislation.
Avalon Fenster, 16, of Huntington, a student at The Stony Brook School and co-founder of March for Our Lives Long Island, called gun violence in America “domestic terrorism.”
The rally was highlighted by emotional appearances from relatives of Parkland victims Scott Beigel and Jaime Guttenberg, both of whom have ties to Huntington.
Beigel, 35, was a former Dix Hills resident who taught geography and coached the cross-country team at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Guttenberg, 14, was a ninth grader at the school.
Guttenberg’s uncle, Paul Guttenberg of Commack, recalled the heart-wrenching time his family spent waiting to hear about news of his niece’s condition.
“Jamie was beautiful, sweet, smart… she had so much life to live, but now she’s dead,” Guttenberg said. “This could happen to anybody and anywhere.”
Guttenberg added that “easy access to guns was a factor” in the Parkland shooting.
He said, “We intend to stop this from happening to other families.”
Linda Beigel, Scott Beigel’s mother, recounted her son’s last actions when he opened his classroom door to provide a refuge to students fleeing the gunfire.
“Scott’s job was to take care of his students, and that’s exactly what he did,” Linda Beigel said. “Together we will help to make our country safe again.”
Fenster told her fellow high school students that they were the next generation of voters.
“I am proud to stand here today and feel confident that we will bring justice to those who have died. We can not let them die in vain,” she said. “It’s in our hands now… It’s in our votes now.”
By Connor Beach