D.C. Teens Push for Gun Control Legislation

The brother of a slain D.C. teen is calling for legislative action to reduce gun violence in the District.

After addressing a crowd of student activists at the March for Our Lives, where hundreds of thousands of students from across the country stormed the nation’s capital to push for tighter gun control, Zion Kelly, 16, hopes to make change in D.C.

Zion’s twin brother Zaire was shot and killed in their Northeast neighborhood in September while walking home from an after-school college counseling program.

“We went to the same school and shared the same friends. We even shared the same room,” Zion said.

Zaire, a senior at Thurgood Marshall Academy, was the team captain of the track team and member of Marion Barry Youth Leadership Institute’s Youth Government. He wanted to attend Florida A&M University.

The night he was killed, Zaire stopped at a convenience store near his home when 19-year-old Sequan Gillis tried to rob him. Zaire stabbed Gillis with a pocket knife to defend himself, but Gillis then shot Zaire in the head. Both died from their injuries.

“Zaire had a personality that would light up a room,” Zion said. “He was a person, a leader, an inspirer, not just another statistic.”

Now Zion proposes the Zaire Kelly School Zone Amendment Act, which would create safe passage zones for students to and from school. The amendment will also expand the definition of a student in D.C. to include any person in a public or private day care, elementary school, vocational school, secondary school, college, junior college or university.

“This means that every student in Washington, D.C., would carry the protection of my brother’s name, ensuring safety as they travel to and from school in our city,” he said.

The current law allows D.C. police to declare emergency zones near public and charter school and in limited areas where students walk to access public transportation. The designation allows police to break up groups of three or more if they have reasonable belief that the group intends to commit a violent crime.

Zion also proposed expansion of the city’s “Gun Free Zones,” areas that increase the penalty for those caught with illegal firearms.

The legislation is not yet listed in the D.C. Council’s legislative database, but the Council’s Twitter page noted the request, placing it among “possible legislation remedies to the gun violence that plagues the District.”

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Tatyana Hopkins – Washington Informer Contributing Writer

Tatyana Hopkins has always wanted to make the world a better place. Growing up she knew she wanted to be a journalist. To her there were too many issues in the world to pick a career that would force her to just tackle one. The recent Howard University graduate is thankful to have a job and enjoys the thrill she gets from chasing the story, meeting new people and adding new bits of obscure information to her knowledge base. Dubbed with the nickname “Fun Fact” by her friends, Tatyana seems to be full of seemingly “random and useless” facts. Meanwhile, the rising rents in D.C. have driven her to wonder about the length of the adverse possession statute of limitations (15 years?). Despite disliking public speaking, she remembers being scolded for talking in class or for holding up strangers in drawn-out conversations. Her need to understand the world and its various inhabitants frequently lands her in conversations on topics often deemed taboo: politics, religion and money. Tatyana avoided sports in high school she because the thought of a crowd watching her play freaked her out, but found herself studying Arabic, traveling to Egypt and eating a pigeon. She uses social media to scope out meaningful and interesting stories and has been calling attention to fake news on the Internet for years.

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