Parkland school shooting survivor speaks at North Texas church

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“March for our Lives” organizers call Saturday’s nationwide demonstration a success. The crowds were massive.

Now people are wondering if lawmakers will listen and act on students’ demands. Many questions were asked Sunday at Lovers Lane United Methodist Church in Dallas, where a Q&A session included school shooting survivor from Parkland, Florida, Justin Irwin.

Irwin shared his story and received a standing ovation from the crowd. He is a junior at Stoneman Douglas High School where 17 people were killed. Irwin was especially close one of them, his swim team co-captain, Nicholas Dworet.

While many of Irwin's fellow survivors are in Washington D.C. for the rally they organized, demanding gun reform, Irwin chose to visit Lovers Lane United Methodist Church on an invitation from Pastor Stan Copeland.

"I just felt like this is where I was called by God to be. I just felt like this was the right place," he said.

Pastor Copeland says he knew he wanted to host a conversation on gun control since the church massacre in Sutherland Springs and Vegas shooting, but the Parkland shooting motivated him to act.
He heard the students when they asked for more than thoughts and prayers.

"We're believers in prayer, but we also got it that they wanted people of faith to do more," said Pastor Copeland.

Irwin shared his message that he believes in the Second Amendment, but wants common sense gun laws banning bump stocks and raising the age to own a gun to 21. Pastor Copeland, a gun owner, himself, agrees, even if that means getting backlash from members of his congregation.

"It's not about banning guns, but it is about more common sensical-type understandings of what we as a society should use guns for," said Pastor Copeland.

That's what was debated among small groups, in a civil manner, Sunday. Irwin inspired that conversation. He hopes to inspire more.

"Now that we know what it feels like, we're going to make sure it doesn't happen to anyone else ever again," said Irwin.

About a dozen elected officials and candidates for offices also spoke at the meeting, sharing their thoughts on gun violence and gun control. Irwin says he hopes to continue speaking out to cause change.