San Diego was one the cities that hosted a “March for Our Lives” protest Saturday morning, a peaceful rally to demand action on gun violence.
An estimated 5,000 to 10,000 people took over Harbor Drive for at least half of a mile to make their voices heard.
"I think it's really important for students to come out here and definitely hear our voices," 14-year-old Francis Parker student Hannah Nazarian told NBC 7 at the march.
The demonstration, centered in Washington, D.C., had more than 800 sister marches around the world. Led by students and young activists, the movement was sparked by the Feb. 14 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where a gunman killed 17 victims.
March for Our Lives organizers say the movement is a way to demand action from leaders and “fight for an America that is free from gun violence” in a time where mass school shootings have become a way of life.
In San Diego, the main March for Our Lives demonstration began at 10 a.m. in front of the County of San Diego Administration Building and Waterfront Park. Signs in hand, demonstrators walked down Harbor Drive and looped around Pacific Highway before ending up back at the park.
"Their deaths will not be in vain," a speaker told the crowd in San Diego. "We will fight and we will push this movement forward with the strength of the students standing here today and across the nation."
"I feel kinda scared," 14-year-old Kieran Ashwar said. "I feel scared to the point where like you never know when someone is just going to come and start shooting at a school, and it just kinda scares me."
There were two additional March for Our Lives rallies happening in San Diego County simultaneously: a march at Swami State Beach in Encinitas and another at Escondido City Hall.
"We don’t have a lot of power. We can’t vote like you said, but we still want to be heard even if we don’t have a big impact," Nazarian added.
"We have a voice too, and if our government can't do it we’ll do it," 12-year-old Muirlands Middle School student Sofia St. Pe said. "It's really heartwarming to see how many people care. I’m seeing all different ages which is amazing.
In the days leading up to the march, many locals spent their time making signs and props in preparation for the demonstration."
On Friday night in Vista, Olivia Smith, 12, and her mom, Valerie Smith, met with friends to make signs for the Encinitas demonstration.
"Kids have big voices, even if they're small. I just want to make a difference and help our whole nation understand that," Olivia told NBC 7, as she painted in the letters of her two-sided sign.
In bold black letters, one side read: "Guns don't make me feel safe." The other side read: "Kids want to feel safe at school."
Olivia said she's marching because she wants to stand up for her school, Rancho Buena Vista, and fellow classmates.
"I hope that authorities see us and understand that we don't want gun violence and that we just want to be safe instead of scared," she said.
Her mother said recent shootings like the one in Parkland, Florida, have been awful but is thankful young people are empowering themselves.
While many marched Saturday, there will also be a contingent who chose not to, like the Graham brothers who spent their Friday afternoon at the Fred Hall Show, a boat, fishing and tackle exhibit at the Del Mar Fairgrounds.
Anthony Graham, 18, and William Graham, 16, both students at Charter School of San Diego, say the focus should be placed on mental health, not guns.
"I will not be one of them [marching] because I don't think guns kill people, I really think it's people who kill people and it's the mental issues that they have," Anthony said.
Graham said he thinks that current gun laws are strict enough and that they "don't need any more work."
William echoed the same sentiment and added that more intensive background checks using available data, like criminal history, could go a long way.
"You have to find the bad people and try and straighten them out or get rid of [their ability] to have guns," William said.