March for Our Lives San Jose – Interview with Daniel Voskoboynik

Prospect Senior Daniel Voskoboynik explains March for Our Lives San Jose’s mission.

Michaela Edlin, Managing Editor

“We all follow the news and every week we see a shooting at a school. Now students fear that they’re going to school to learn and someone is going to bring a gun to school and shoot everyone and they’re going to die. Essentially, I don’t want people to have that fear. I don’t want anybody to live in fear that they’re going to go to school and die. As a student, that faces that situation and the possibility of a school shooting happening, I want to advocate for changing the laws, so that it doesn’t happen again.”

“The organization itself doesn’t advocate for one specific change, but in general we are against semi-automatic weapons because essentially these weapons are designed to kill. We don’t think that people, especially young people, should have access to these weapons because we don’t think that they’re necessary for any means. We also believe that someone who is mentally ill shouldn’t have access to a weapon in general. The movement essentially is advocating for a change, to end school shootings.”

“When I first joined, I was just invited by a classmate of mine and I didn’t necessarily understand how big of a responsibility it was. It’s definitely a huge one. Essentially, we are a student lead organization and we have the huge responsibility of the organizing the entire city of San Jose and the surrounding cities. Basically, we are responsible for thousands of people who are interested in this. We have to figure out all of the stuff: We have to advertise; we have to fundraise. I personally am in charge of coordinating volunteers and we already have hundreds of volunteers signed up. It’s a huge responsibility in the sense that there’s lot of people counting on us and a lot of people looking at us and we are taking precedence for that. At the same time I’m really happy about that because we can really make an impact because it’s not just a small thing, it’s turning out to be a big thing. We’ve already fundraised almost $6,000 in three days.”

“It [student organization] shows one that this isn’t a political thing, there’s no agenda here. The only agenda is to stop gun violence. It’s students seeing other students being killed at school and we are saying that we need change. One thing people have been asking us that I feel so strongly about is if we are a political movement and we’re not advocating for a specific part. This is a people issue. We need to find a way to stop this from happening, to advocate for a change in laws. I feel great that this is student run because I feel that it shows how passionate we are. We don’t necessarily know what we are doing, we aren’t experienced, but we are finding out along the way, we are making mistakes and learning from that. We’re okay with making mistakes because we just want to advocate for a change.”

“We’re not advocating for the democratic party or the republican party, we’re not advocating for any party. We have people that represent republicans and democrats onboard with this movement. The reason for it, is that we want this to be a bipartisan movement, we want all people. We don’t see why students should be at risk at dying for going to school, we don’t see why this should happen so often. We want us all to come together to advocate for change.”

“The whole march is relatively new, it’s only a few days old at this point. We want people from all high schools in the area to be involved with us. We have an interscholastic coordinator onboard with us whose job is to specifically reach out to other high schools and we’re in the process of it. We want everyone who wants to be involved, to be involved, especially students. If students at other schools haven’t been reached out to, hopefully they will be reached out to within the next few days, but if not we want them to reach out to us if it’s something they’re passionate about because we want this to be inspired by students feelings, for students to be the major people involved. We definitely want as many students on board as possible.”

“[Joel Rodriguez, interscholastic coordinator] reaches out to schools and looks for student ambassadors from all of these schools, reaching out to admin from these schools from high schools, to colleges to potentially even middle schools. We want to find student ambassadors that will work with us and with their entire school to spread awareness and to spread our social media pages so that people can see what’s going on. We are also spreading out a volunteer form that’s on facebook and instagram that people can fill out. We’re going to be working with all people who volunteer, so there’s a way for all students can get involved so we definitely want to spread the word on that.”

“We haven’t had the opportunity to do so [reach out to administration] yet because most schools are on break. It’s something that we will be doing on Monday. We are hoping that admins will get it, but if not we not to really try to explain to them the severity of this and to really try to work with and communicate with the adults that are in our students’ lives. This is an important issue that we want everyone to be a part of.”

“Since Columbine, before we were even born, I’ve just seen interviews and I’ve seen the response of people that have been affected by mass shootings. I just imagine what if this happened at my school, what if 17 of my classmates were shot and killed and I just think how horrible that would be. I can’t even imagine how painful and difficult it would be to experience something like that. I try to be empathetic to what people from all these schools have gone through and try to be understanding and I just think if it was me. I don’t want to just offer prayers and thoughts and then move on again. I think there needs to be a change to stop this from happening, because there is a pattern that is constantly recurring. For me it’s really about putting myself in their shoes and listening to them because they do have all of these student voices and they have thoughts about this and I want them to express these thoughts because it’s so important.”

“There’s definitely a culture of American pride that related to gun in the United States, that’s probably unique to America, part of it is definitely regulation. The argument is that there are countries with no gun regulations and no mass shootings, but at the same time the culture of the U.S. and other countries is very different because of the diversity in the U.S. as well as the high population density. Conflict is more prevalent here and I think that’s why we need to go above and beyond with out regulations in order for things to change because if we just do nothing, what’s going to change? Another argument that we’re also against is arming our teachers. We don’t want more guns to be in the system. There is so many reasons why arming our teachers and having guns at our schools is a terrible idea.”

“I’m not hopeful for complete regulation of assault weapons because it’s going to be very difficult because of how important this issue is for so many people, on both sides. However, we already are seeing changes. Florida’s governor has already gone on record saying that he thinks people under the age of 21 should not be allowed to buy a gun. Oregon has already closed this loophole that they had, in order to prevent anyone who’s been convicted of domestic assault from purchasing a weapon. We saw both of these things happen less than two weeks after the shooting. I think when people see the collective marching, essentially every major city in the country, all at the same time on the same day, March 24, I really think that people will want a change. There are a lot of politicians who are involved in this, senators and representatives, that also advocate for change so I really do hope and think that if we all come together and show how much we care about this as a country, change will come about in some shape or form.”

“Obviously if the NRA is giving money to political candidates, those political candidates won’t be willing to regulate guns or advocate for change because they’re getting money from the NRA. However, we already seen so many companies, United Airlines and many rental car companies, cut ties with the NRA as a result of this outrage and it has only been, as I mentioned, two weeks. With more time and with more people pushing, like at the Florida town hall with students asking Marco Rubio to not accept anymore funds from the NRA. I think it’s definitely possible if more pressure and more people really using their voices that we could see politicians possibly cutting ties with the NRA and I think that’s definitely a great thing.”

“High school students and young people in general are finally putting their foot down. Before we always looked to the adults and what the adults think needs to change. However students are now done waiting for adults to make a change. We’re now putting our own fate into our own hands and advocating for change. Nationwide we see students finally taking charge on this matter and this is really the first time we see so many young people so strongly advocating and being so passionate about something. We need more people registered to vote. There’s so many teenagers that now feel strongly that we are hoping that people will finally be interested in participating in politics more actively. We will have voter registration booths on March 24. Hopefully, the other marches will have that too. You can be 17 or 18 to be registered to vote and try to make a change in the future.”

“My issue isn’t with gun owners, I understand that people want guns to protect themselves. I personally don’t think we need to ban all guns. I just don’t understand why gun owners don’t want it to be harder to own a gun–in the sense of background checks, psychological evaluations and closing the gun show loophole–because it’ll be more work for you, but if you want a gun and not a threat of shooting up a school, you’ll still be able to obtain a gun. It’s the people that we don’t want to own a gun like the people that have been reported to the FBI, the Florida shooter who was reported to the FBI, who was reported as a potential school shooter. The police were called to his house and he had literally said on social media that he wanted to go shoot up a school and nobody did anything because our laws aren’t regulatory enough to look at a case like this and say that he shouldn’t be able to buy a semi-automatic assault weapon at the age of 19 and go shoot a school. We want people like that to not be able to get a gun. If someone wants a gun in their home to protect themselves, that’s fine. I think people are confusing specifically what we are asking for.”

“With this movement, there’s a lot of people on board. How can we all come together and discuss how we feel and what we advocate for? With this march, not everyone has to have the same exact opinion. At the end of the day, we are advocating to end gun violence but there are people who think there are different ways to do it. I may personally have my own opinion on how to do it, of how the laws may change and there may be someone else who has a slightly different opinion and feel differently about gun laws.That’s why we have our social media platforms. We want people to go on there and voice how they feel personally. That’s why we really encourage anyone who comes onboard to join our facebook and instagram and see what we are talking about.”

“This is my own personal opinion, from me specifically and not on the behalf of everyone that’s apart of our team, but I feel that a society progresses, a lot needs to change. When the constitution was first made, women weren’t allowed to vote and slavery was a part of the constitution through the 3/5ths compromise. Additionally, when the constitution was first made, semi-automatic weapons didn’t even exist when they were talking about firearms. I think that the argument that just because it was written by our founding fathers in the 1700s, we should uphold it, isn’t an accurate statement. I think it’s a pretty harmful statement because if you advocate for that, you advocate that slavery should still exist and that women should be considered secondary citizens that can’t vote. At the end of the day, as we move forward as a society and grow, we need to change our laws to reflect that. The second amendment applies in this case because I don’t think we should get rid of all guns, we just need to regulate them.”

“I really hope that everyone can come onto our protest and follow our Instagram and Facebook, both of our accounts are marchforourlivessj. Please follow us to keep updated. If you message us, we will reply within the hour. We are on board with everyone so I hope that everyone who feels strongly about as we do, that they’ll be willing to come on board and work with us”