Thousands rally during March for Our Lives events in Jacksonville area

Thousands of people in the Jacksonville area rallied for stricter gun laws during nationwide March for Our Lives events on Saturday.

Crowds marched in downtown Jacksonville, historic St. Augustine and Fernandina Beach during March  for Our Lives events in more than 800 cities.

“It could’ve been my friend and it could’ve been my teacher,” Mia Cleary, a student at Ponte Vedra High School, said at the rally in Jacksonville. “It’s a lingering feeling inside of us -- that we could be next and that there is not enough safety precautions.”

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Cleary was one of the high school students who took action after learning about the massacre in Parkland, Florida, that claimed the lives of 17 students.

Cleary reached out to schools in St. Johns and Duval counties, inviting hundreds to Hemming Park to stand in solidarity with Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students as they marched in Washington, D.C.

“We as students shouldn’t have to be the ones telling the leaders of our country how to do their jobs,” Audrena Forrest, a student at Atlantic Coast High School, said.

Students, parents, teachers--people from all walks of life--called for stricter gun laws, including more thorough background checks and a ban on semi-automatic rifles.

“It’s about common sense gun laws,” Kathy Kanter said.

Kanter and her husband marched with the crowd from Hemming Park to the Duval County Courthouse.

“All of these people being so motivated to finally vote people out that don’t get it -- it is really inspiring,” Kanter said.

Students said if lawmakers won’t listen to their concerns, it’s up to voters to make change happen.

“Change is long overdue. We’re going to get it either by voting them out or getting the legislators currently in power to change their views,” said Ajay Sarma, a student at Nease High School.

The students said they won’t stop until their voices are heard.

“We’ll keep fighting it and stop at nothing until we achieve gun control and safety of schools in our nation,” said Emmy Pearson, a student at Bolles School.