Congressman Jared Huffman visits North Bay schools to talk about gun violence

SAN GERONIMO, Calif. (KGO) -- Students in two North Bay schools got a rare opportunity Thursday to talk about school safety and gun violence with the congressman who represents them. The visits came in the wake of last month's mass shooting in Parkland, Florida.

North Bay Democrat Jared Huffman looked over the 90 or so sixth, seventh and eighth graders in the gym at Lagunitas Middle School in San Geronimo and said, "I've been looking forward to this conversation with you."

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The format was question and answer, and the students didn't waste any time.

Question: "How do you feel about the right to bear arms and to buy semi-automatic handguns?"

Huffman: "We've always allowed reasonable restrictions on the right to bear arms under the Second Amendment."

Meaning, the Constitution may affirm the right to bear arms, but not all arms. Huffman says nothing would prevent Congress from banning assault type rifles.

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Huffman's appearance comes two weeks after 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz opened fire with an AR-15 rifle inside a Parkland, Florida High School, killing 17 people. The result: anxious students and worried parents across the country.

Both schools reached out to Congressman Huffman's office to talk about school safety and gun violence and he was glad to oblige.

"There's incredible pressure on Congress right now to step up and do something on this issue," he said.

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Later in the day, Huffman spoke to students at Casa Grande High in Petaluma. He told them a step in the right direction would include a federal ban on assault-style weapons and more rigorous background checks for gun purchases.

Some students were looking for something more. One teenager asked about being taken seriously by adults.

Question: "What can we do because we don't have the power they have?"

Huffman: "I would suggest you've got a lot of power right now as part of a restless generation that's just not going to take it anymore."

He says keeping pressure on elected officials through calls, letters and social media is one way to exercise that power.

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