Hundreds of people rallied at San Francisco's City Hall on Saturday to demand stricter gun control laws as a part of a nationwide action organized by Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.
Protesters urged the U.S. Senate to pass universal background checks with no loopholes for gun shows and online purchases, as well as a red flag law that makes it harder for people at risk of harming themselves or others to get guns.
Gun control advocates at the event shared why they're taking action.
Jessica Blitchok co-founded the San Jose Chapter of Moms Demand Action in the wake of the Parkland shooting. She said her teenage son came to her, terrified that his school could be next. "And it was the first time as a parent when I wasn't able to say, no, that's a fear that you don't have to worry about, because for the first time I thought that's a fear that I have, too," she said.
Emily Pfefferlin worked at the Gilroy Garlic Festival this year, but left work ten minutes before the shooter arrived at the festival. "I've always cared and thought that there should be stricter reform," she said. "But it hits close to home when it's in your backyard."
Mattie Scott lost her son to gun violence in 1966, and had to tell her grandson the next day, on his birthday. "The scream I heard on that phone, it rings in my ear everyday," she said. "It makes me get up to do this work. I can't sit down, it's too much. There's too many people being murdered."
"You really do get tired of it. It's heartbreaking, and I feel like I have to do something, however small. I think about it everyday, y'know, what could I do?" said Linda Ono, who lost her husband to suicide 16 years ago. "I just hope more people will stand up."
Isabel Williams, a student leader who spoke at the rally, advocated for stricter gun control laws. "One of our goals is to ask the Senate to come back from their August recess and pass HR8 which would require comprehensive background checks on all gun sales," she said. "We also want a federal red flag law which would give the courts the power to suspend access to guns for people who should not have them because they are a danger to themselves or to others."
Lucero Cardiel is a 7th grade science teacher in Fairfield, California, and attended the rally to advocate for her students. "How many more students have to lose their life in order for there to be change?" she asked.
The recent El Paso shooting also motivated her to take action. "That for me, was finally like, 'Ok this is terrorism, this is past anything that could be tolerated,'" she said. "And that's why I finally decided not only for my students, but also for myself as a Mexican-American...I shouldn't be afraid to walk into a Walmart."