Tuesday, March 31

Student organization hosts event to raise awareness of gun violence campaign

Bruins for a Safer America, a bipartisan student organization that advocates for gun reform, partnered with the shoe company Toms to host the event to raise awareness about their #EndGunViolenceTogether campaign. (Amy Dixon/Photo editor)

UCLA students signed and stamped their handprints to a mural installation to promote gun control at an event Thursday.

Bruins for a Safer America, a bipartisan student organization that advocates for gun reform, partnered with the shoe company Toms to host the event to raise awareness about their #EndGunViolenceTogether campaign.

Pat Bradley, a co-founder of BSA and fourth-year cognitive science student, said BSA was formed to open a dialogue for college students to discuss gun violence. He added that BSA was founded in March in response to the Parkland, Florida, school shooting in February.

At the event, students signed postcards in support of mandatory universal background checks for the purchase of guns, which Toms said would be mailed to the students’ corresponding representatives.

An installation of abstract murals was also on display at the event, one of which was painted by a UCLA student. Students signed and added their handprints to the murals and, after signing, were given pins in support for gun violence reform.

The event is part of a gun reform campaign in which the company collects murals from various campuses across the U.S., along with postcards signed by advocates for gun reform. A Toms representative said the event is part of a larger effort to address aspects surrounding gun violence, including mental health, research and suicide prevention. Toms will invest $5 million over the next two years into various organizations, including nonprofits and campus organizations.

Sandrine Demathieu, a fourth-year sociology student, said BSA recruited her to paint UCLA’s mural. Demathieu said she hopes the mural will send a message to lawmakers about the need for legislative change.

“I think (it’s) a really good idea, because visuals really get to us and I think that will be a really powerful message,” Demathieu said.

Caspian Brock, a co-founder of BSA and a fourth-year Middle Eastern studies and Arabic language and cultures student, said she was inspired by Parkland high school students’ responses to the shooting at their school and wanted to keep the conversation going.

“We were like ‘Where are the college students on this issue?’” Brock said. “It’s just a huge issue that affects our age group.”

Bradley said he hoped the event would provide a forum to discuss gun violence, but added the club aims to shift to more action-based events in the future, such as rallies and fundraisers for various nonprofit organizations.

“I really hope that we can see some legislative change at least in terms of universal background checks because over 90 percent of Americans believe this is something that should happen,” Bradley said.

Joshua Horita, a second-year psychobiology student who stopped to sign a postcard and the mural at the event, said he thinks there should be legislative action on gun reform.

“We want something to be done, and we’re tired of the inaction,” Horita said.

Fernanda Soto, a second-year sociology and public affairs student who stopped to sign a postcard at the event, said although she is not sure where she personally stands on gun control, she thinks some change must be made.

“I want to help the cause out,” Soto said. “It’s a good cause. … I think all movements, that’s how it starts: the people and the voice.”

Bradley added he thinks UCLA was the perfect location for the event because of the students’ heavy involvement in national issues and the close proximity of the recent shooting in Thousand Oaks, California.

“Most people are always excited by the idea of doing something with this issue because it’s not being addressed well enough in this country and UCLA is such a community … of people that really care about what is going on in their communities, especially with the closeness of what happened in Thousand Oaks,” Bradley said.

Contributing reports from Marilyn Chavez, Daily Bruin contributor, and Anush Arvind, Daily Bruin staff.

Maria Carias

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