Cedar Rapids rally pushes for stricter gun laws

KCRG-TV9's Mollie Swayne reports on the rally, one of many held across the country this weekend in the wake of recent gun violence.
Published: Jun. 12, 2022 at 12:14 AM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Tricia Waechter said she had an “epiphany” about guns and safety recently.

“I just realized I could not keep being silent,” Waechter said.

Waechter is a member of Moms Demand Action. The group, along with March For Our Lives, organized a rally on Saturday afternoon. About 150 people gathered in Greene Square to listen to speakers share stories about gun violence and its impact on their lives.

One of those speakers was Leah Schneider from Cedar Rapids. She survived the 2017 shooting at a country music concert in Las Vegas.

“After the first three pops, my entire being shifted,” Schneider said.

Schneider added that she was depressed for a year after the shooting, and survivor’s guilt led her to consider suicide.

“It’s when I started thinking my kids would be better off that I knew I had two choices. I was going to succumb to this event and let that evil act take me down with it, or I needed to put this feeling and everything that was happening into action,” Schneider said.

Kayla Panos-Blackcloud also spoke. She was shot in the head at the Iowa Smoke Shop in 2019. She called for gun licenses that have to be renewed like driver’s licenses.

Saturday’s rally followed several recent shootings across the country, including one at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. That shooting killed nineteen students and two teachers.

“After the Uvalde shooting, I was extremely in a state of depression and despair for several days,” Waechter said.

Waechter added that she is a mother of three and, next year, all her children will be in three different schools in Cedar Rapids.

“I’m tired of always worrying when I hear sirens around their school that there could be something going on at their school today,” Waechter said. “I don’t want my kids to grow up in a world like this.”

Maria Moore also attended the rally. She shared some of the same worries as Waechter, and she urged people to start working for change now.

“Don’t wait until November. Write to your Senators. Write to your Congresspeople, your representatives,” Moore said. “Write, write, write. And then vote, vote, vote.”

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