Gun control advocates have a champion in 13-year-old Ethan Sonneborn, who is running for governor of Vermont.
Sonneborn is the youngest candidate ever to run for the top office in the state that gave America the political phenomenon of Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Sonneborn told CNN Friday that the gun control debate following the Parkland shootings provides him with a “good opportunity to make change.”
The teenage candidate, who faces no legal barriers to his objective under Vermont law, declared his political intentions a year ago but is actively using his gun control advocacy to raise the profile of his campaign.
“There’s always been a sense of, ‘We don’t talk about that in politics.’ That’s what I wanted to change,” Sonneborn explained to 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.”
The junior high student might come from a liberal state where gun control is extremely popular in some sectors, but he recognizes that people in rural Vermont still like to hunt.
“It’s a culture that I respect,” he told CNN. “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.”
The executive director of Vermont’s Democratic Party says Sonneborn is no johnny-come-lately when it comes to restricting gun rights.
“Ethan really did embrace the gun issue early on,” Conner Casey told CNN. “He’s representing younger people and he’s been a good voice for them.”
But Casey does acknowledge some logistical challenges for Sonneburg’s campaign. The candidate is still busy with his homework and he can’t drive without a license.
“He’s dependent on other people for rides to statewide events he speaks at,” Casey told CNN.