WASHINGTON (AP) — Thousands of people packed the National Mall for the most high-profile nationwide protest on Saturday, marking another push for gun control after the recent mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas, Buffalo, New York, which activists say should compel Congress to act.
Organizers hoped the second March for Our Lives rally would attract up to 50,000 people to the Washington Monument. Although this was far less than the original 2018 march that filled downtown Washington with over 200,000 people, they decided to focus this time on smaller marches in around 300 locations.
Despite the rain in the nation’s capital, dozens of people took to the monument grounds long before the rally began, holding up signs, including one that read “Children are not replaceable, senators are.” Vote.” A school-aged girl carried a sign that read, “I want to feel safe at school.”
“We want to make sure this work happens across the country,” said Daud Mumin, co-chair of the walk’s board of directors and a recent graduate of Westminster College in Salt Lake City. “This job isn’t just about DC, it’s not just about senators.”
The first march was spurred by the February 14, 2018 killing of 14 students and three staff by alumnus of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. This massacre sparked the creation of the youth-led March For Our Lives movement, which successfully pressured the Republican-dominated Florida state government to pass sweeping gun control reforms. fire.
Gun restrictions advocacy group March For Our Lives holds a rally on the National Mall near the Washington Monument in Washington. (BOWL)
Parkland students then took aim at gun laws in other states and nationally, launching March for Our Lives and holding the big rally in Washington on March 24, 2018.
The group did not match Florida’s results nationally, but has persisted in advocating for gun restrictions since then, as well as participating in voter registration drives.
Now, with another round of mass shootings bringing gun control back into the national conversation, organizers of this weekend’s events say the time has come to renew their push for a national overhaul.
“Right now, we’re angry,” said Mariah Cooley, March For Our Lives board member and senior at Howard University in Washington. “It will be a demonstration to show that we as Americans are not going to stop anytime soon until Congress does its job. And if not, we will eliminate them.
The protest comes at a time of renewed political activity on guns and a crucial time for possible action in Congress.
Survivors of mass shootings and other incidents of gun violence lobbied lawmakers and testified on Capitol Hill this week. Among them was Miah Cerrillo, an 11-year-old girl who survived the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. She described to lawmakers how she covered herself in the blood of a dead classmate to avoid being shot.
On Tuesday, actor Matthew McConaughey appeared in the White House briefing room to push for gun legislation and made some very personal remarks about the violence in his hometown of Uvalde.
The House passed bills that would raise the age limit for buying semi-automatic weapons and establish federal “red flag” laws. But such initiatives have traditionally stalled or been heavily watered down in the Senate. Democratic and Republican senators had hoped to reach an agreement this week on a framework to address the issue and spoke about it on Friday, but they had not announced a deal.
Mumin said the goal was to send a message to lawmakers that public opinion on gun control was shifting beneath their feet. “If they are not on our side, there will be consequences – rejecting them and making their lives hell when they are in power,” he said.
Associated Press writer Ian Mader in Miami contributed to this report.
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