Gun Violence in America & March for Our Lives
America had a truly historical moment on Saturday, March 24, 2018. The March For Our Lives was led by the student survivors of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Parkland, FL. There were 800,000 teens and adults who attended the March in Washington, DC. Many more attended in cities across the U.S. to demand change in gun laws and talk about gun violence in America.
A March led by our minors is amazing. Even more amazing is that they included all others affected by gun violence in America, including domestic gun violence victims, police gun violence victims, and more. This was not just a march to stop school shootings and school violence. They made a statement that "Enough is Enough".
They were also incredibly articulate. In an era when so many think children are just children, it was wonderful to see them show the world that our American children can stand up for themselves, provide valuable statistics to support their positions, and be able to address our Congressional leaders with words and action. They are stating that when they are eligible to vote, that they will vote based on this sole cause. Many don't believe they will follow through on their actions. However, many don't realize that once your voice has been heard, you are a force to be reckoned with always.
Students Speak Up
Several students stood out. Emma Gonzalez spoke and stood in silence for about 6.5 minutes to honor to victims of the Marjory Douglas High School shooting on February 14, 2018. This was less than the duration of the school's shooting. It was symbolic of the time that students and teachers died, were injured, and were hiding in fear. The silence was deafening and powerful.
Samantha Fuentes, another Parkland school shooting survivor with gun wounds on both legs and shrapnel on her face stood up for herself and her friend, Nicholas Dworet, who died and would've turned 18 years old on the day of the march. Overcome with emotion, she vomited behind the podium and persevered with her speech and led the crowd in a Happy Birthday song to her beloved dead friend. She was courageous and empowered. David Hogg, another survivor stated, "The people in power are shaking." The most popular chant at the march was "Vote Them Out."
Young Children Speak Too
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s granddaughter, 9-year-old, Yolanda Renee King, spoke as well, stating, she dreams of "a gun-free world, period." And 11 year old, Naomi Wadler, stood for the disproportionate number of black females killed by guns. She said, "For far too long, these names ... have been just numbers. I'm here to say 'never again' for those girls, too." There are many more amazing children that made their voices heard. Undoubtedly they are coping with tragedy in many ways. This is their chance to cope and have an active role in shaping and owning their future.
Gun Law Changes the Students Want
The students have detailed explanations in their "Manifesto to Fix America's Gun Laws," as listed in their words, in their guest editorial in the Guardian. These are the nine (9) gun law changes they request, as written by the editorial staff students of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas newspaper, the Eagle Eye:
- Ban on semi-automatic weapons that fire high-velocity rounds
- Ban accessories that simulate automatic weapons (e.g. bump stocks)
- Establish a database for gun sales and universal background checks
- Change privacy laws to allow mental healthcare providers to communicate with law enforcement
- Close the gun show loophole and loophole for second-hand gun sales
- Allow the CDC to make recommendations for gun reform
- Raise the firearm purchase age to 21
- Dedicate more funds to mental health research and professionals
- Increase funding for school security
Democracy at Work
This march shows how a democracy works. It shows that everyone can use their voice. It has empowered many of our youth for the future. The future is in our children. Wait and watch because gun violence is only the beginning for these children, these future lawmakers, these activists; their future has so much more ahead!