Tom and Lisa Stukel had already planned to take a trip with their twin 13-year-old boys, Dante and Ezra, to Washington, D.C., before learning about the March for Our Lives rally against gun violence that took place on March 24.
“We were going to go anyway with our kids and weren’t supposed to be here until Saturday,” Stukel said in a phone interview from the nation’s capital earlier this week. “When we heard about the march, we decided to leave a day early.”
Saturday’s demonstration resonated for the Oak Park couple, because both are teachers and neither want to be armed while in their classrooms.
“We weren’t trained to be sharpshooters,” Lisa, 46, said. “We were trained to teach.”
Lisa and her son, Ezra, an eighth-grader at Brooks Middle School in Oak Park, were interviewed by the BBC during the march. The network’s cameras picked up on Lisa’s neon green sign that read, “I teach with books not guns.”
“There was a time when I wasn’t sure that [the young people] were going to be able to stand up,” Lisa told the BBC reporter, “but they’re here and its heart wrenching and it’s moving. Perhaps we can get something done. Not gun control, but gun reform — commonsense laws.”
Ezra told the BBC reporter about the March 14 walkout at Brooks, which took place as part of the National School Walkout against gun violence held exactly one month after the shooting that left 17 dead at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.
“A bunch of our students think that this movement is a great idea and that there could be change possibly,” he said.
During the phone interview with Wednesday Journal, Lisa said she was moved by the diversity and youthfulness of the protest — quite different from other mass demonstrations she’s joined, including the 2017 Women’s March.
“It was quite electric seeing such a large group of people of all ethnicities and ages, and having a whole day of speakers who were all under 17 years old,” she said. “That was pretty incredible.”
Lisa, a member of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, said that she’s directing some of that energy locally.
On April 15, from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., the group plans to screen the documentary film “Under the Gun” at the Oak Park Public Library’s main branch, 834 Lake St., and host a question-and-answer forum afterwards.
“We’re trying to get people involved in this topic,” she said. “It’s about educating people on current gun laws and how they can be changed.”