Activists Call for Gun Laws

Students Demand Action fights gun violence


Photo: Payton Habel

Zoom screenshot of the Washington State Students Demand Action Virtual Field Office team.

The issue of gun violence is spreading throughout the country and becoming more prominent in the lives of University Prep students.

Students Demand Action (SDA) is an organization dedicated to fighting gun violence within schools and communities. SDA aims to disarm domestic abusers, combat daily gun violence, hold the gun industry accountable, and protect children. Students want to reclaim their safety and ensure that guns are kept out of the hands of dangerous people. 

“Students Demand Action is a non-partisan organization working to end gun violence in all forms, including creating stricter background checks and trying to end city gun violence,” sophomore and text team leader Julia Cappio said. 

Cappio learned about SDA in 2018 after the Parkland shooting, but became more active during the summer of 2019 when she became a text team captain. This role entails sending out text messages to her team and ensuring that her team members feel a part of the SDA community. 

“I was interested in joining Students Demand Action because I saw a real crisis that was happening with gun violence nationwide. I was sick and tired of fearing for my safety and my friends’ safety going to school,” Cappio said.

In the fall, Cappio and her fellow activists focused on voter registration. She phone banked constantly and organized one to four shifts a week to call potential voters and recruit active SDA volunteers. 

Sophomore Payton Habel is also a member of SDA. She joined the organization because she thinks it is important for students to feel safe in their communities. 

“I was feeling kind of useless with all the school shootings and mass shootings…like there was nothing I could do, so when I heard about [SDA], it seemed like a good place to start,” Habel said. 

As a result of the pandemic, millions of guns have been bought in the last six months which could lead to a higher risk of gun violence. 

Within the UPrep community, there are currently seven student SDA Virtual Field Office (VFO) leaders and a number of student team members. 

I feel like we have a crisis on our hands … I think that so many students all over the country are scared for their safety to go to school where they should be learning and should be growing as people.

— Sophomore Julia Cappio

 “I do feel safe at UPrep … but when I enter a classroom or walk in the halls, I still think about what I would do or where I would go if someone had a gun. No one should have these thoughts constantly running through their head, especially at a place like school,” Habel said.

SDA tries to reach as many people as possible through social media and by being featured in articles.

The Washington VFO members choose at least two committees on which to work within their SDA group. Members attend weekly meetings to talk about new ways to educate the general public.

“A lot of ways that we do that [disseminate information] is through phone banking for gun sense candidates and gun sense laws,” Habel said. 

SDA’s goal is to get candidates into office who will create a safer country by passing gun control legislation such as Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPO). This legislation is already in place in Washington and California and is an active way of disarming potential violent shooters. If an ERPO is placed on a person, it forces them to surrender their arms and license. 

During the recent election, SDA phone banked for candidates supporting gun reform in swing states with the hope that these candidates would be placed in office so legislation, like ERPOs, will be enacted.