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Let's put Florida and Excel students together to talk about violence

Students at Excel Academy in West Baltimore haven’t experienced a school shooting, but have lost seven schoolmates to street gun violence in the last year and a half, and can share stories going back decades about the outsize role guns have played in their lives and the impact it has had on them. (Ulysses Muñoz, Karl Merton Ferron / Baltimore Sun video)

The mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida last month has fueled the first real movement toward gun control. I thought if the mass murder of small children at Sandy Hook couldn't move Congress, nothing could. I have been so impressed with the students from this school who are leading the charge. They are articulate, passionate and motivated, which is giving me hope for the future in our troubled country.

I was equally impressed with the students from West Baltimore’s Excel Academy who were recently interviewed in the Baltimore Sun (“These Baltimore students aren’t afraid of mass shootings. They’re facing gun violence in their everyday lives,” March 1). They too, are articulate, passionate and motivated. The Florida students are motivated to speak out about gun control because of a mass school shooting they survived. They believe no one should have to fear going to school. The Baltimore students are motivated to speak out because of the shootings that happen every day in our city. They say school is the only place they feel safe.

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What would happen in terms of bridging the obvious institutionalized racial divide in these students’ stories if we could bring these inspirational young people together to share their perspectives about gun violence in America? How might they join forces to work for change that will help everyone? How about some national coverage for those students who feel safe only when they are in school?

Inside or outside of school, one thing is the same — guns have been killing their peers, relatives, mentors and friends. Let's get these two groups together to share their stories and perspectives. Imagine how powerful their shared dialogue could be. Imagine how powerful they can be if they join forces to ensure the safety of our schools and our streets. Any takers out there? CNN, how about it?

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Melissa Falen, Baltimore

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