Thousands of protesters are expected to gather in Washington, DC on Saturday and in separate protests across the country in a new nationwide gun control campaign. Motivated by a new wave of mass shootings, from Uvalde, Texas, to Buffalo, New York, protesters say lawmakers must take notice of shifting public opinion and finally pass sweeping reforms.
Organizers expect the second March for Our Lives rally to draw around 50,000 protesters to the Washington Monument. That’s far fewer than the original 2018 march, which filled downtown Washington with more than 200,000 people. This time, organizers are focusing on holding smaller marches in around 300 locations.
“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.
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 at 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 told lawmakers how she covered herself in the blood of a dead classmate to avoid being shot.
On Tuesday, actor Matthew McConaughey showed up at 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 discussed Friday, but they had not announced an agreement by early evening.
Mumin called the Senate “a place where substantive action goes to die,” and said the new march was meant to send the message to lawmakers that public opinion on gun control was shifting beneath their feet. . “If they’re not on our side, there will be consequences – electing them and making their lives hell when they’re in power,” he said.
Associated Press writer Ian Mader in Miami contributed to this report.