Gun Free UT group advocates on east mall

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Donning bright orange t-shirts and holding signs that read, “Protect our kids, not our guns,” a group of about 20 parents and UT faculty from the Gun Free UT group gathered at the East Mall on Monday to protest gun violence.

“We are here to hold silent vigil … out of respect for everyone that was killed last week in Florida,” said Lisa Moore, English and women’s and gender studies professor. “We want to continue to say that we will refuse to accept this as normal and that we will continue to show up, make our views known and demand common sense gun control.”

Moore joined other gun reform advocates in front of the statue of Martin Luther King Jr. at noon for the 10-minute vigil and protest that followed. She said although Gun Free UT was initially organized to bring attention to Texas’ campus carry law in place at UT, which went into effect in August 2016, the group has since broadened its focus and joined the national conversation about gun violence.

Following last week’s shooting at a Florida high school that left 17 people dead, multiple surviving students and parents have spoken out about gun reform, with some even planning to march on Washington, D.C.

“We’ve been so inspired by the high school students in Florida,” said history professor Joan Neuberger, who attended the protest. “We think any show of support helps encourage other people to take the time … to become more informed.”

Psychology sophomore Tabitha Morris passed by the protest on Monday and said she was glad to see people on UT’s campus protesting gun violence.

“I know in my classes we talk about safety and about how people are genuinely scared to come to class — that’s just not something that should be a thing,” Morris said. “Every single time something like (the Florida shooting) happens and nothing comes of it, it just heightens that feeling.”

Moore said the group will continue to meet at the MLK statue every Monday at noon, and she hopes students will come out and join them.

“UT has historically been a campus where there’s been a lot of activism. A lot of great social change has started here,” Moore said. “This is a great opportunity for UT students to really take the lead, connect with students in Florida and elsewhere and really change things.”