Parkland survivor, Newtown family members, team up for student safety summit in Raleigh

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Survivors of school violence speak in Raleigh. (WTVD)

Sandy Hook Promise hosted the annual SAVE Youth Summit at NC State Saturday, a day after the 19th anniversary of the Columbine school shooting.

"I lost my brother in the Sandy Hook school shooting. Daniel - he was 7," said Natalie Barden, one of the event's speakers.

"My son was Dylan. He was six when he was killed," added Nicole Hockley, a co-founder and Managing Director of Sandy Hook Promise.

Sandy Hook Promise is an organization, led by family members and loved ones of Newtown shooting victims, aimed at preventing gun violence and enhancing student safety.

"Training kids how to look out for another, how to look out for somebody who's socially isolated, to make them feel included. Look for warning signs of this behavior and getting people connected to the people they need before it becomes a tragedy," explained Mark Barden, Natalie's father and himself a co-founder and Managing Director of Sandy Hook Promise.

The event comes as the debate over gun control has seen renewed attention following February's shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.

"We are in the middle of this incredible surge of youth activism right now," said Mark Barden.

One of the most outspoken advocates has been Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg.

"I wasn't even alive when Columbine happened. And then my school happened almost two decades later. And nothing changed," Hogg explained.

Hogg said they have five main platform points to address these issues:

1. Funding CDC Research

2. Digitalization of ATF Records

3. Universal background check system

4. Ban high-capacity magazines

5. Assault weapons ban

"The only way we're going to be able to change this is by getting out and voting," Hogg said.

As the 2018 midterm elections approach - lawmakers have faced pressure from both gun rights and gun control supporters to take a stance.

On the federal level - the Department of Justice submitter a notice to Office of Management and Budget that federal law be changed to ban bump stocks.

Lawmakers have also passed the Fix NICS Act - which is focused on national background checks - and the STOP School Violence Act - which makes grant money available to states to train students, school officials, and law enforcement on school safety measures.

Individual states have also enacted their own gun control laws in wake of the shooting.

On Saturday, the Room was filled with many students not yet old enough to vote. Still, that hasn't stopped many from trying to enact change.

"So many people are here because people are afraid for their lives, and they shouldn't be. And there's nothing we can really do but try to prevent it. If you're afraid then start, acting," Natalie Barden said.

For the adult advocates, like Hockley and Barden, their mission is to prevent anyone else from experiencing their loss.

"It's not so much about me, this is about what I can do to help others, because I simply don't want why other parent to be in my shoes and I don't want any more students to have to continually live under the threat of a potential shooting," said Hockley.

Several schools were honored for their work during today's event, including Pinecrest High School in Southern Pines.
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