Candidates for the next California U.S. Senator gathered for a town hall in Monterey Park on Friday night to discuss gun violence and policy reform.
The four Democratic candidates gathered at East L.A. College, which sits less than three miles from the site of the Monterey Park mass shooting that claimed 11 lives on Jan. 21, 2023.
The discussion was hosted by the youth-led organization March for Our Lives, in partnership with People’s Town Hall and Southern California Crossroads.
The appearance also marked the first time all four candidates appeared together on stage.
The candidates include Rep. Katie Porter of Irvine, Rep. Adam Schiff of Burbank, Rep. Barbara Lee of Oakland, and Lexi Reese, a businesswoman from San Mateo.
The town hall discussion allowed students and attendees to question candidates on their plans to tackle rising gun violence across the nation.
The subject of gun violence, especially for students, is a pressing one as there have been 386 school shootings since the Columbine shooting, according to Washington Post data.
The report notes over 356,000 students have experienced gun violence at school since 1999.
Town hall attendees not only wanted to hear what the candidates had in plan to prevent violence but they’re also hoping they will stay true to their promises when in office.
Five years ago, after 17 people were killed during the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., David Hogg organized a march against gun violence that led to a movement called “March for Our Lives.”
“We’ve been registering tens of thousands of young people around the country to vote and making sure as many candidates as possible at the state and federal level support stronger gun laws to protect against what happened in Parkland,” Hogg said.
On Friday night, Hogg joined California Senate candidates on stage to discuss their plans to combat rising gun violence.
“Can you speak about your views about how young people can engage and make a difference in our society?” one attendee asked Rep. Barbara Lee.
“I believe young people need the power of their vote at 16,” Lee said.
“We need to pass policies that save lives,” said Rep. Katie Porter said. “It really is that simple.”
“There are footsteps, there are heartbeats, there are birthdays that never happen,” said Lexi Reese, a political newcomer and businesswoman.
Reese the one thing that has evolved and should be used in the safekeeping of guns is technology.
“Guns are dumb, they’re dumb, Reese said. “Our phones are smarter than our guns. Our phones unlock around our thumbs and our face. So should our guns.”
Hogg said he’s not giving up on gun reform in hopes one of the elected leaders will push to ban the AR-15, the firearm that killed 17 students and staff at Parkland High School.
“You don’t need that to defend yourself with a 30-round magazine,” Hogg said. “If you need 30 rounds to defend yourself, you need more range time, not a larger magazine.”
With limited exceptions, California currently prohibits anyone from possessing an AR-15 and the Golden State is home to some of the strictest gun laws in the nation.
On Friday, all four candidates spoke of their continued support for gun policy reform and all have previously voted in favor of gun control policies.
“Building a society where nobody wants to do that harm other people, we have still not finished our job,” Hogg said.