Congresswoman Castor aims to amplify student voices ahead of Tampa gun violence prevention event

Published September 10 2018
Updated September 10 2018

TAMPA — U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor says she doesn’t believe gun control should be a partisan issue. And she’s looking to young people as the ones to find common ground.

On Monday, Castor appeared at Robinson High School with student organizers of the Tampa chapter of March for Our Lives, a national student-led group formed to promote solutions to gun violence.

The students are planning an event Saturday dubbed "Bands and Ballots," designed to be both a voter registration drive and a forum for conversations about gun violence.

"I strongly support these students," Castor said. "We just started a new school year and I’ve heard from parents and students alike. They’re a little nervous. Since Parkland, not much has changed policywise. In fact, nothing has changed in the Congress when it comes to taking action to prevent gun violence."

The event is scheduled from 5 to 9 p.m. at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park. It will feature live music from seven local artists, along with speakers who include David Hogg, Emma Gonzalez and Sofie Whitney, who survived the February mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

"We know that gun violence can affect anyone no matter their party," said Macy McClintock, a Robinson High senior who heads March for Our Lives-Tampa. "People need to realize that gun violence is something that can be fixed."

The local organizers, who also include members of We the Students, a Pinellas County-based activist group, stressed that their aim is not one of partisanship. They said they invite attendees of all political stripes to participate.

"We want people to come out no matter their stand on gun violence prevention," said Alyssa Ackbar, also a Robinson High senior who co-chairs March for Our Lives. "Come out and have a conversation with us."

Asked about specific policy goals, Castor mentioned universal background checks for gun purchases and the re-enactment of a ban on military-style assault weapons.

Castor, 52, said she is inspired by the outspokenness of young people on gun control issues.

"They’re kind of giving voice to an older generation that has become complacent," she said.

Contact Dan Sullivan at or (813) 226-3386. Follow @TimesDan.