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Published August 8th, 2018
Moraga Teen takes on fight for safer gun laws
Poster promotes Aug. 25 rally to fight gun violence Image provided

Vasch Gerber is not your average Lamorinda student. The energetic teen is back from a year in Taiwan where Gerber lived with different families and learned Mandarin as part of a program sponsored by the Moraga Rotary. Back to Moraga and ready to enter Campolindo High School as a junior, the passionate 16-year-old has spent the last months preparing for a rally to end gun violence, scheduled from noon to 2 p.m. on Aug. 25 at Civic Park in Walnut Creek, and has partnered with several organizations to make an impact.
Last year and at the beginning of the year while Gerber was in Taiwan studying, news about the school shootings in the United States were not making the headlines there. Gerber heard about it, however, and was very distressed by the news, and upon returning home, noticed that nothing had changed from a political standpoint - such as laws like the bill allowing gun owners to carry concealed weapons across state lines that the House passed last December still garnered a lot of political support.
Gerber decided that being passive was not an option and sprung into action. The future Campo student is not against the second amendment, but believes that weapons should not be left in the hands of people who can hurt others. Gerber explains that the right to carry a gun should be treated the same way freedom of speech is applied: one is free to speak - or own a weapon - unless there is a risk of it being used in harmful ways.
The articulate and passionate teen has done research on the topic, and, without being an expert, has acquired a substantial body of knowledge. Gerber explains that one of the things that need to be changed is the possibility for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to conduct gun violence research, something that was stopped some 20 years ago by the Dickey Amendment. Car safety research has improved the safety of cars dramatically without banning cars, and studying gun safety could do the same. The student looked for examples such as research done by the Violence Prevention Research Program at UC Davis, which has shown, for example, that repeat convictions of DUIs predisposed the person to commit a violent crime with a firearm.
Gerber reached out to different local groups to organize the rally. The teen explains that the organization of the event took a lot more time and effort than had been anticipated. Gerber joined with Stand Up For Change (https://www.standupforchange.info/), a student led anti-gun violence group to put on the Aug. 25 grassroots Civic Park rally. Several other groups joined in, such as Moms Demand Action, Moms Rising, and March For Our Lives.
Gerber says several politicians have been invited to the rally and will be asked questions on their positions and ideas regarding gun regulation. Several students will also talk about their experience with guns and surviving gun violence. The purpose is to raise awareness and foster a dialogue beyond party lines.
For more information about the rally, visit www.standupforchange.info.

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