CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KWWL) - Hundreds gathered at Greene Square Park in Cedar Rapids Saturday afternoon for a "March For Our Lives" protest, seeking an end to gun violence nationwide.
Cedar Rapids was one of many cities across the country to have demonstrators speak on why new gun laws are needed in the United States. Some of the speakers at Saturday's event included leaders from 'Moms Demand Action,' local faith leaders, and people with first-hand accounts of seeing their friends die from gun violence.
Leah Schneider is from Cedar Rapids but was in the crowd during the Las Vegas shooting in 2017, which killed over 60 people and left more than 800 injured.
"It was on the third day of Country Music Festival in Las Vegas, when all of a sudden the worst mass shooting in history broke out," Schneider recounted.
Kayla Panos-Blackcloud survived the shooting at Iowa Smoke Shop in Cedar Rapids in 2019. She says she's witnessed many in her community be killed.
"Nicole Owens, age 35. Malik Sheets, age 20. Royal Abrams, age 18. Can we take a moment to remember the people who have been impacted, not only in our community but nationwide?" she said.
Whether through a random mass shooting or a result of group violence, the protestors believe access to guns needs to be further restricted, alongside mental health support.
"Bump it to 21, bump it to 25, bump it to 30. You know what I mean? There's a lot to a person and the fact that they're able to just go and get a gun is really reckless I think," said Jayson O'Brien.
Protesters began marching at 2:30 through downtown and ended up at the federal court house since Republican senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst both have offices there.
Reverend Jayne Thompson said it's past due time they advocated for stricter gun reform.
"Long, long, long past time that we advocate for reasonable gun control and pass just gun laws, as well as calling for mental health and medical healthcare for veterans and all people," Reverend Thompson said.