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Columbine Shooting Survivors Take Part In March For Our Lives: 'Change Not Happening Rapidly Enough'

WASHINGTON, D.C. (CBS4) - As tens of thousands gathered in the nation's capital for the March for Our Lives, survivors from the 1999 Columbine High School massacre were in the crowd advocating for change.

The annual march and rally was founded in 2018 following the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. It sparked a series of marches across the world focused on pressuring leaders to pass gun control legislation.

"It was a very powerful and exalting thing to be a part of," said Chris Welsh.

march
(credit: Welsh and Zach Martin)

Welsh and Zach Martin of Littleton were among the large crowd in D.C. Saturday. 23 years ago, both were students during the deadly shooting at Columbine High School. For Welsh, it was a day of panic, confusion, and pain.

"I feel the impact of it in unexpected ways sometimes," Welsh said. "It's something that has never really left me, but I really try to direct it into the positive or productive light nowadays."

For the last 16 years, Welsh has found that positive light teaching social studies at the school he once attended, but as mass shootings and gun violence continues, he's now compelled to do more.

It's why he, his wife Larissa, and Martin came to D.C. to advocate for change, such as background checks, assault rifle bans and more mental health support for survivors.

"Change needs to take place. It's not happening rapidly enough," he said. "Zach and I, especially, wanted to stand with and for other victims of shootings, other survivors, but to be honest, one of the major deciding factors for both my wife and I to come out here was the thought of our 1-year-old daughter and the future she's going to grow up with."

March For Our Lives Rallies Held Following Mass Shootings
Demonstrators listen to speakers during a March For Our Lives rally near the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C., US, on Saturday, June 11, 2022. In the wake of the May massacre at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas,and other recent mass shootings, students and activists have continued to stage walkouts and rallies to demand change. (credit: Craig Hudson/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

While an enormous task, Welsh remains hopeful it can be done.

"The reason I'm here is because of the concept of hope. I have faith in the system, I have faith in the overall goodness of humanity to learn from their mistakes," Welsh said. "If we keep at it, it will eventually occur.

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