Zion Kelly
Zion Kelly

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.”

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...

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