Standing by the flag pole in the center of campus, Andrew Fishman, ’22, stared down at the candle he was holding during the vigil on Oct. 29, 2018, for the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting.
The flame went blurry, and his mind raced. He thought about all the people affected by this tragic event.
He asked himself: ‘What can I do to prevent future shootings?’
His answer: the Students for Gun Safety club.
With his eyes set on a future free of gun violence, Fishman is aiming to draw attention to his new club.
Fishman has had previous experience with trying to create change. He had organized a walkout as a high school student in response to the Parkland shooting.
He was inspired by the feelings from vigils every time another victim had been claimed by gun violence. After the vigil held at Lehigh in October for the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, Fishman decided to take action immediately.
“I realized more needed to be done besides just prayers,” Fishman said.
That night, Fishman began drawing up the paperwork for a club against gun violence. He didn’t want the emotion to fizzle out and become just another thought in his mind.
He began sending out messages that night seeking people who were interested in making a change as well. His recruitment process allowed him to gain some new members who share his passion.
Hannah Coleman, ’22, a member of Students for Gun Safety, has known Fishman for most of her life. However, it was this club that brought them close together.
Coleman said she saw Fishman’s message and has had a history with protesting gun violence. She was drawn to this club because she, too, has been personally impacted by gun violence.
“For everyone really close to our area, we were all very much affected by the Newtown shooting,” said Coleman, who lives near Newtown.
The first goal, however, was to get the club recognized by Student Senate through its liaison program. Fishman said he has encountered a few challenges along the way.
Joey Kawash, ’19, is a member of Student Senate and a mentor to Fishman. Kawash has been providing advice to Fishman so he can achieve his goal of getting his club to be recognized as an official club.
Student Senate is in charge of approving, promoting and allocating funds for clubs.
Fishman has been tasked with recruiting upperclassmen and going through a 15-week trial period with limited funding to prove his success before receiving full status.
Bradley Susskind, ’22, is also a member of Students for Gun Safety and leads the charge for recruitment. Susskind said he sees a bright future for this club in raising awareness against gun violence and has had success with recruiting new members already.
“I aim to help people at Lehigh and across the world realize and pay attention to what’s going on,” Susskind said.
To help raise awareness, Fishman plans to bring attention to five different people who have been victims of gun violence each week who can share their stories.
“First, create awareness,” Fishman said. “Once that’s there, then comes the action. We need both sides to work together. That’s how we’re going to solve this.”
This group will be opened to anyone interested in speaking out against gun violence. All are welcomed, regardless of political stance.
The goal isn’t to have a group of people completely against guns, but to have a group formed to promote discussions from both sides of the spectrum.
“It’s less about politics and more about human rights,” Coleman said.
Fishman said if anyone is looking to join the club, the best way to do so is to reach out to him. A meeting will be held on March 6 in Rauch Business Center Room 060.