PORTLAND, Maine — June 3 is National Gun Violence Awareness Day, and in the wake of mass shootings in Buffalo, Uvalde, and Tulsa in the past few weeks, Mainers are taking a stand hoping to bring about change.
"It's really easy to say I live in Maine. I live in Cape Elizabeth, Maine. Nothing is going to happen to me there, but it can happen to anyone, anywhere," Stella Crawford, a Cape Elizabeth High School junior, said.
Crawford organized a walkout Friday. About 200 students from Cape, South Portland, Portland, and Scarborough joined her in marching to Republican Sen. Susan Collins' Portland office to give her a letter detailing why she should support gun reform.
Collins was working in her office in Bangor on Friday, but a handful of students were able to talk with members of her staff.
"It definitely feels good to be invited into the office. I think that was definitely a step forward from what we have experienced so far," Eben Harrison, a Cape Elizabeth junior, said.
"We want her to see us. We want her to know that we're here. We're tired of this. We don't want to be here right now, but we're going to be here, and we're going to keep doing what we're doing until we see change," Crawford added.
Students are asking Collins to stop taking campaign money from the NRA and to support gun reform.
According to the Federal Elections Commission, Collins has not taken money from the NRA for two decades. NEWS CENTER Maine was able to confirm that she received contributions from the NRA Political Victory Fund during the 2002 campaign season for at total of $9,900.
In a statement, her office wrote that she is part of a bipartisan group of senators who are discussing gun safety legislation.
"They are making rapid progress toward a common sense package that could garner support from both Republicans and Democrats," Collins' statement said.
Students also said the conversation surrounding guns needs to pass this time.
"They were saying she's been working on stuff in 2013 and 2018, but that shouldn't be something that's still being worked on," Harrison said referring to the conversation with Collins' staff.
In 2013 Collins voted in favor of expanded background checks, but it did not pass with the majority needed.
And in 2018 she supported a "no fly, no buy" law, which would have improved background checks and would not allow people who are not allowed to fly to buy guns.
Students said Friday this type of gun reform is taking too long.
"We want solutions now, not a compromise," Crawford said.