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Organizers of Iowa Marches Plan to Continue Push for Change

Gun control supporters in Iowa say they’ll continue to push for policy changes. Organizers hope to harness the energy from the marches that took place this past weekend.

Student activists say they’re already moving forward with their plans to make schools safer. That’s after thousands of Iowans braved the snow Saturday to march in solidarity with the victims of a shooting in Parkland, Florida.

Linn-Mar high school student Kevin Drahos helped organize the event in Cedar Rapids. He says he wants mandatory waiting periods for gun purchases, a ban on assault-style rifles and more funding for school counselors.

“They don’t have time to get to know these students personally and identify if students are at risk. It’s too much. So I think that comes down to school funding,” Drahos said.

He says there are disparities in the support Iowa schools can provide to students to in need.

“Linn-Mar has...you know, they’re known for having good resources and they’re a bigger school so they have access to these things. You look at the rural schools and you look at these smaller schools, they don’t have access to these things. They don’t have, you know, the support system," Drahos said.

Drahos is quick to say those with mental health issues should not be stigmatized, and says many shootings are perpetrated by people who don't have a diagnosis of mental illness. But he says the Parkland shooter, who killed his former classmates, shows there are gaps in student support systems. 

Drahos and other students are now working to put on a town hall with lawmakers, scheduled for April 7th.

Kate Payne was an Iowa City-based Reporter