Millions of people across the United States took to the streets last weekend to demonstrate their support for stricter gun control regulation in the wake of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.
The event was planned largely by student activists, continuing the trend of young people making their voices heard on this highly controversial issue in America. The main march took place in Washington, D.C. but over 800 other marches occurred all over the country and around the world.
According to gun violence prevention group Everytown for Gun Safety, more than 2 million people participated in the March for our Lives in 387 congressional districts, which represents 90 percent of all voting districts in the US. Those numbers make it among the largest protests in American history.
The student activists used the platform to call out politicians with ties to the National Rifle Association and other pro-gun organisations. They demanded change to the US’ gun laws to prevent future mass shootings at schools, concerts, places of worship and elsewhere.
Some of the specific changes being advocated for are universal background checks on anyone attempting to purchase a firearm, raising the federal age of legal gun ownership to 21 and banning the sale of high-capacity magazines and assault weapons.
The protests come even as proponents of the Second Amendment, which guarantees the right of Americans to bear arms, have attempted to undermine student activists with conspiracy theories and other claims meant to discredit them.
Every speaker at the Washington, D.C. march was high school age or younger. Many students were from Stoneman Douglas High School, including Emma González.
González’s speech was one of the most powerful moments of the march.
After briefly naming the victims, she stood silent until six minutes and twenty seconds had passed, the same amount of time the Parkland shooting lasted.
What these students are doing is incredibly courageous and vital to finding a solution to the problem. They are refusing to be scared in the face of others trying to cut them down, and keeping the conversation about the issue going. In doing so, they may bring about the legislative change that politicians have delayed for so long.
Great change has rarely been accomplished without tremendous action from citizens. As an American, this is what we as a nation have prided ourselves on for so long – the ability to fight injustice for ourselves and have a direct say in our own governance.
Too often that ability has been compromised or not taken advantage of, but seeing people stand up for what they believe in such a massive way gives me hope that there may finally be an end in sight to the violence that has plagued America for so long.
Photo by Tim Mudd