TOMS RIVER — Students ranging in age from elementary school to high school wearing orange shirts took to the steps of the Ocean County Library to rally for more action on gun violence in New Jersey.

The rally, organized by the group Everytown For Gun Safety and its Moms Demand Action, drew a crowd of about 100 to Toms River. Demonstrators began with a reading of the names of the 17 people shot dead by Nikolas Cruz at Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida last Wednesday.

"Kids are typically expected to take a back seat to what goes on in politics and policy. It can't happen like that any longer," said one student speaker who didn't announce his name, seen in a video streamed by the Asbury Park Press. "There's been a conversation about what to do with guns and with gun violence in our schools that's gone on for six years since Newtown (Connecticut). It's the same conversation, the same debate and the same ideology battle back and forth and it hasn't worked."

The Toms River students joined the families of the victims and students in Parkland, Florida who have been calling on Congress on social media and in speeches to pass laws to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill.

Theresa Turner, director o  the Monmouth/Ocean Director of Moms Demand Action, compared a speech by Emma Gonalez at a rally in Fort Lauderdale on Saturday to the Dr. Seuss book "Horton Hears A Who." The Stoneman senior and shooting survivor told lawmakers and gun advocates "we call BS" on arguments against gun control.

It her voice that got people to notice, Turner said. Gonzalez hid from the gunfire for two hours, according to reports.

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"Her voice was that one voice on that one dust speck that yelled 'We are here, we are here.' Her voice broke through  and was heard throughout the country, in the halls of our government and probably around the world," Turner said. She speaks for all of you (students) in calling for our elected officials, whose job it is to keep you save from gun violence in our schools, to do their jobs and prevent this from happening again.

Turner also said that the Parkland shooting has brought students to be part of the organization and prompted the formation of a new initiative, Students Demand Actio,  for those over the age of 13.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at or on Twitter @DanalexanderNJ