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Back From D.C. March, Berkshire Teens Question Gubernatorial Hopefuls

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Josh Landes
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Mount Greylock juniors Karen McComish and Ella Dudley with Massachusetts Democratic Gubenatorial hopeful Setti Warren at a forum in Pittsfield Sunday.

Thousands of people in our region took part in rallies against gun violence over the weekend. Two high schoolers from The Berkshires attended the March For Our Lives march in Washington, D.C.

Sunday’s Democratic forum with three candidates running for Massachusetts governor had a pair of special guests.

“Hi, I’m Karen McComish.”

“I’m Ella Dudley.”

“We’re juniors from Mount Greylock Regional High School. Yesterday, we went to Washington, D.C. for the March for our lives,” said McComish.

The two traveled to the nation’s capital with a bus of 55 other students from the region.

“More than ever, teens are involved and care about politics and the world around us. Yesterday over 850,000 people were in D.C., and 1,000 were here in Pittsfield. We might be teens in high school, but we are also citizens who are engaged,” said McComish.

McComish and Dudley had pointed questions for the candidates:  Setti Warren, Jay Gonzalez, and Bob Massie.

“What do you plan to do on gun control- specifically, ERPA?” asked McComish.

ERPA — or ‘Extreme Risk Protection Act’ — is a law on the books in five states that allows the state to remove firearms from individuals judged to be a risk to themselves and others. Massachusetts does not have such a law.

“How do you learn about the concerns of teens in Massachusetts?" continued McComish. "How will you show that you will take us seriously — because we will be voting. And would you be willing to meet with a group of high school students to listen to our concerns in Massachusetts? And will you give us a voice in politics and policy?”

The appearance marked the end of a whirlwind weekend for the students.

“We got home last night. We went on the bus at 2:30 in the morning, we went down to Washington, D.C. , and then we got back the next day at 2:30 in the morning,” said McComish.

“It was really amazing," Dudley said. "There were obviously so many people, 850,000, that’s the biggest single day march in the history of this country.”

It was the first time Dudley, McComish, and their friends from the Berkshires had seen their Parkland, Florida, peers in person. The high schoolers jumpstarted the latest gun control debate following the February 14th shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

“Those students are so strong, they’re incredible. The way that they organized so many people together over this issue. It’s not just one day, it’s not just the march, it’s a movement. And that’s why we’re here today. We’re going to keep this going. We’re going to educate people, we’re going to get people voting. This is super important. We’re going to make sure that people who believe in what we’re doing and believe in us are in office and are representing us the way we want to be represented,” Dudley said.

McComish said the D.C. rally gave attendees a blueprint to return home with, one that she and Dudley were following as they surveyed the candidates at the forum on gun control.

“Everyone talked about how we’re going to do things in the future, and what we’re going to do. We’re going to start a club, we’re going to follow the model that they talked about: R.E.V., register, educate, and vote, and that’s one of the reasons we came here today, because we wanted to learn about them and their different views on different policies because we’re going to educate our own school after we get everyone registered and pre-registered so that we can go out and vote and make a difference and make our voices heard,” said McComish.

“Older people, the upper generation, they were there, they were listening," said Dudley. "Someone said to me on the street, she said, thank you for leading us. She was ready, she was supporting. They’re listening.”

You can hear other highlights from the forum at wamc.org.

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