A 13-year-old running for governor in Vermont is highlighting gun control in his platform.
Ethan Sonneborn, who declared his candidacy last year, is calling for stricter gun control in his home state, and told CNN in an interview published Friday that the refreshed national conversation on guns in the aftermath of the Florida school shooting presents a “good opportunity to make change.”
“There's always been a sense of, 'We don't talk about that in politics.' That's what I wanted to change," Ethan told CNN. "I wish it didn't take a tragedy for us to become involved in a national dialogue about how we move forward, but we can't go back in time and make it that Parkland didn't happen. And while we're in this moment, I think it's a good opportunity to make change."
Ethan emphasized that he is respectful of the state’s prominent hunting culture.
“It's a culture that I respect," he said. "But if it's making the decision between letting my friends have a good time at a firing range and them possibly being involved in a school shooting, I'm choosing legislation to protect them from that school shooting."
Conor Casey, executive director of the state’s Democratic Party, praised Ethan for taking on the issue of gun control early in his campaign.
"Ethan really did embrace the gun issue early on,” Casey told CNN. “He's representing younger people and he's been a good voice for them."
Casey said that Ethan’s biggest obstacles are balancing campaigning with school, and not having a driver’s license.
“He's dependent on other people for rides to statewide events he speaks at,” Casey said.
There are currently no age requirements for gubernatorial candidates in Vermont, and Ethan is the youngest ever to seek the office.
"I'll admit when I first heard about a 13-year-old running, I thought, 'Is this some kid from “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” spoiled?' But that's not the case," Casey said.
Young people have been at the forefront of the gun control conversation following the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Survivors of the shooting have been in the national spotlight and organized the "March For Our Lives," the anti-gun violence march that drew least a million people to cities around the nation last Saturday.