Hundreds pack in for Raleigh forum on gun violence prevention; youth march Tuesday

RALEIGH, NC (WTVD) -- It was standing room only in the auxiliary room at Raleigh's Pullen Memorial Baptist Church for this public forum by Moms Demand Action.

The Triangle chapter of this national advocacy group has grown dramatically since the shooting in Parkland, Fla., - signing up new members to lobby for what it calls sensible new gun laws and asking members to help "vote out" any politician taking major donations from the NRA.

"And this time we're done, we're just done (with senseless gun violence)," one MDA organizer told the large crowd.

Standing amidst this room of mostly women and moms was Mike Russell. He's a Raleigh father and husband who up until the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School was a proud owner of an AR-15 rifle, the same kind of weapon used in the Florida rampage.

EMBED More News Videos

Mike Russell is a former AR-15 owner who was moved to give up his rifle after the Florida school shooting.

Last week, Russell drove to the Wake County Sheriff's office and turned the gun over to deputies. He no longer wants it.

"(The gun) was a symbol of death for me," Russell said. "As a symbol, I got rid of it. I turned it over to the sheriff's department."

Outside Pullen Memorial, the church's youth pastor, Bryan Lee, spoke to ABC11 about Tuesday's planned Youth March on the State Capitol.

In response to the tragedy in Parkland, more than 2,000 people have RSVP'd on Facebook for the event that begins with a memorial at the church and culminates with a march down Hillsborough Street to the steps of the State Capitol.

"I know that my generation's not doing enough," Lee said. "But that's not enough. We're done. We're going to do something this time. And we're going to make sure this does not happen again."

Lee says the goal is for gun-law reform, not a ban on all guns. They're demanding every gun be registered, mandatory background checks, a ban on private gun sales and mandatory gun locks.

RELATED: 'Moms Demand Action' NC chapter sees uptick after school tragedy

"This could've happened at my school," said Kees Thompson, an 18-year old senior at Enloe High School, who plans to march on Tuesday. "I think that there is a very strong foundation here for something to happen here, something to get done for legislation to be made."

The vigil and march begin at 5 p.m. outside Pullen Memorial Baptist Church. On Wednesday, high schoolers from Parkland are planning a similar action at the Florida State Capitol in Tallahassee. And on March 24, young people from across the country are planning to march on Washington.
Copyright © 2019 WTVD-TV. All Rights Reserved.