A student club at Pasadena High School has started a petition calling on school district officials to halt public spending on products from companies that manufacture or sell guns.
Tenth-graders Roxana Honowitz and Mia Hepner, leaders of the school’s Student Action Project club, said the group was inspired to take a stand after the Dec. 14 shooting deaths of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
“We can say we support change and gun control, but it’s hypocritical if we also support places that sell guns by buying supplies from them,” said Roxana, 15.
Roxana is the daughter of Pasadena school board member Ed Honowitz.
Honowitz said that his daughter told him about the campaign, but that club members came up with the idea and drafted the online petition on their own.
The petition at change.org asks the Pasadena Unified School District to “stop purchasing supplies from businesses that manufacture or sell guns.” The document also calls for the district to “boycott industrial superstores that sell these weapons and ammunition (such as Big 5 and Walmart).”
Pasadena Unified spokesman Adam Wolfson said Big 5 Sporting Goods and Walmart are not official vendors for the school district, but school funds may have paid for items from those stores through reimbursements for staff purchases.
“If a coach needed a basketball, the coach could have purchased one from Big 5 and submitted a reimbursement,” Wolfson said.
Posted Monday night, the petition had received more than 120 online signatures as of early Friday afternoon, with the majority of supporters claiming residency within the school district.
Pasadena school board President Renatta Cooper said she received an email about the petition from a local pastor and believes school officials should review what vendor relationships, if any, would be affected by a boycott of companies associated with gun sales.
“Young people should be doing things like this, and I am proud of them for doing it,” Cooper said.
As a student during the anti-apartheid movement, Cooper campaigned for Pacific Oaks College in Pasadena to divest from companies in South Africa.
Mia, 16, and Roxana said the roughly 20-member club plans to present the petition to school officials in early February.
“I know we’re just one school and there’s not much we can do to prevent gun violence, but anything we can do might make a small impact,” Mia said. “We’re trying to take a stand.”
Roxana added: “We want to help something get done instead of just waiting around.”
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