Missoula councilwoman wants Florida high-schoolers to know they’re an inspiration

Students at Missoula’s Hellgate High School walked out of class last month to protest gun violence in the wake of the mass murders at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. (Martin Kidston/Missoula Current)

Missoula City Councilwoman Gwen Jones wants the high-school students in Parkland, Fla., who’ve ignited a nationwide movement for tougher gun laws how inspired she and others here are by their leadership and courage.

So she’s writing them a letter, and on Monday night invited her fellow City Council members to add their signatures if they are so inclined.

The letter will be ready in about a week, Jones said following the meeting.

But the gist will be this: The students who survived last month’s mass murder at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School should know that their voices are moving the debate over gun control forward, said Jones, who represents Missoula’s Ward 3.

They’ve shown “wonderful” leadership in a time of great personal sorrow, she said. Their courage is beyond the pale. Their words have strength and power, and the country needs their leadership.

That’s why, Jones said, she decided to write those students and let them know that adults and students thousands of miles away in Missoula, Montana, have been inspired by their words and actions.

Already, Missoula students have staged one walkout and march downtown, expressing their outrage at Congress and their support for the Florida survivors.

Other demonstrations are planned as well, not only in Missoula but nationwide. At the urging of the Parkland students, a nationwide school walkout is planned for Wednesday, March 14.

There are young-voter registration drives in the works, as the high-schoolers have vowed to vote out of office those congressman and women who don’t take action to prevent future school shootings.

There are marches planned on state capitals and legislatures and through downtown streets across the country. March for our Lives groups nationwide (including Montana) are planning rallies to protest gun violence on Saturday, March 24.

Jones said she’ll share her letter with the community once it’s finished. Missoula Current will post the letter online as well.