Students are done hiding from gun violence and will stop at nothing to get politicians to prevent it. This past weekend, students across the country came together to march for this united message.
Marchers delivered speeches to large crowds in the rallies, called March for Our Lives, from cities such as Washington, D.C. to Los Angeles, CA. Some of the students were still in elementary school.
With raised fists and tears streaming down their young faces, they created a wave to shock the generations before them. They will not be moved.
Delaney Tarr, a student from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, where a gunman took the lives of 17 people, was one of the many students who spoke to tens of thousands of people standing together in Washington.
“If they continue to ignore us, to only pretend to listen, then we will take action where it counts,” Tarr said. “We will take action every day in every way until they simply cannot ignore us anymore.”
One of the most powerful speeches came from Naomi Wadler, an 11-year-old girl from Virginia. Wadler moved her audience as she cried out “never again” toward the gun violence history involving black women and girls.
In the hours prior to the nearly 800 marches across the country and internationally, the White House and Capitol Hill took no significant steps in gun control legislation. President Trump signed a $1.3 trillion spending bill, which did nothing to broaden background checks or limit assault weapons.
It should be noted that rallies this weekend took place in 390 of the nation’s 435 congressional districts. John Feinblatt, the president of Everytown for Gun Safety, said these students are not slowing down anytime soon.
“The mass shooting generation is nearly voting age,” Feinblatt said. “They know the midterms are six months away, and they plan to make sure that they vote and they get others to register to vote. They are absolutely poised to turn this moment into a movement.”
Several counter-marches occurred throughout the country by pro-gun citizens. They proudly walked holding signs reading “AR-15’s EMPOWER the people” and shouted, “We’re going to be the generation that takes down the gun lobby.”
Their shouts were muffled by the tears pouring down the faces of 17 students who took the stage at a Florida park close to Stoneman Douglas High School. Each student took the stage to represent one of their friends who had been murdered.
The brother of one victim, Anthony Montalto, held a sign that read: “My sister could not make it here today. I’m here for her.”
I’m not anti-guns, but I’m not pro-guns either. People from all over the world––Rome, Berlin, Tokyo––gathered together this weekend to unite to push legislation for an issue that wasn’t even in their own country. If other countries are recognizing something needs to be done in our nation, why are we so blind?
Students are scared to go to school. Imagine being one of the Parkland survivors. Imagine what it was like on that dark day in February. Imagine being cramped underneath a desk, hearing gunshots from the hallway, praying to God it wasn’t your best friend.
Then imagine going back to school after you buried 17 of your classmates and faculty members.
These students are making change for this nation. Guns are not the only weapon, and I think they are smart enough to know that. But when you have the power as a voter and informed citizen to create change that has the potential to save thousands of lives, why are you still clutching, white-knuckled, your AR-15?