“I’ve cared about firearm regulation for years, but when Parkland happened, I knew I had to do something,” said Saint James fourth former Laurelle “Elle” Maubert.
Elle said that the school shooting that occurred in February of 2018 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida “galvanized [her] to do [her] own research into U.S. gun policy” and that she came away from her research determined that specific legislative changes are needed.
Though a boarding student (she lives in Coors dormitory), Elle is a resident of Frederick, Maryland, and she started her project for change close to home. Last October, along with a handful of friends and group advisor Tara Treacy, she launched the Frederick chapter of Students Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.
“Students Demand Action is a nationwide student-advocacy group with the goal of ending gun violence through common sense gun laws,” Elle said.
Elle’s advocacy with Students Demand Action caught the attention of international peace organization Pax Christi. At a ceremony in Bethesda during November of 2018, she accepted Pax Christi’s Peacemaker of the Year award for the D.C. metro area. On January 27 of this year she gave a speech about gun violence to those gathered for the Frederick Women’s March. While she admits that she was “just a little bit nervous” about speaking in front of a large group of strangers, she drew a calm from the confidence she had in her message.
As passionate as Elle is about firearm regulation, she comes from a military family—her father served in the Marine Corps for more than 30 years. Her personal upbringing perhaps brings nuance to her thinking about firearms.
“There absolutely is proper gun ownership,” she said. She adds that it is important for people to understand that the kind of legislation she advocates for “is not about trying to take people’s guns away” but is rather focused on “ensuring that guns stay out of the hands of those who should not have them.”
One practical measure that Elle sees as an immediate step toward curbing gun violence is universal background checks, so she followed with interest House bill HR8, which proposes the expansion of background checks to all gun purchases, even those made privately between individuals. She was pleased to see HR8 passed by the House in February.
“Background checks are the most bipartisan first step we can take to ending gun violence in America,” she said. She notes that the bill moves to the Senate as S.42, or the Background Check Expansion Act.
When asked about what she wants to accomplish in the future, Elle said, “I don’t know what the future holds, but I could see myself going into the world of politics. I will probably always be most passionate about stemming gun violence, but I also care about issues surrounding climate change, gender equality, youth voter turnout, and health care.”
Elle’s days are not, of course, entirely devoted to political activism. Outside of her usual studies at Saint James, she also participates in Cross Country, Dance, and Lacrosse and is active in the Model UN club.