Clayton students walk out of school in demonstration on gun debate

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CLAYTON, Mo. - Gun violence at St. Louis area schools was the focus of students, parents, lawmakers, and law enforcement on Friday.

About 100 students walked out of Clayton High School to show their support for eight classmates who gathered to talk about the gun issue, including student Neel Vallurupalli.

"Students should feel safe to learn in school and not worry about being threatened," he said.

Fifty citizens also showed up to hear the research students conducted on gun violence in their American Government class.

"What would make me feel safer is common sense gun control," said Margaret Baugh, a senior at Clayton High School.

The American flag flew at half-staff, a reminder of what happened last week in Parkland, Florida, where 17 people were gunned down at a high school.

"Increasing the number of guns is not the solution we need," said junior Sydney Tennill.

The students also discussed the fears they feel every day going to school.

"Every day of my life I fear that someone will pull out a gun and shoot," said student Hayley Bridges.

Clayton Mayor Harold Sanger and Missouri State Rep. Stacey Newman were on-hand at the demonstration to listen.

"I just wish I could take all their voices back to the general assembly on Monday," Newman said. "We're hearing about eight different gun lobby bills."

While students discussed possible legislation, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar and local chiefs of police met with school superintendents to work hand-in-hand in being prepared for a school shooting like in Florida.

"We've included the schools as part of that now. The schools have a plan," Belmar said. "They know what to expect from law enforcement and law enforcement knows what to expect from schools."

Belmar said there have been similar meetings in the past and it was time to hold another because there is the turnover of principals and superintendents and the new educators need to be brought up to date.

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