March for Our Lives: thousands expected at US gun control protests

Thousands were expected to rally in Washington DC on Saturday and in demonstrations around the country as part of a push for Congress to enact meaningful federal gun control reform.

“We will no longer allow you to sit back while people continue to die,” said Trevon Bosley, a board member of March for Our Lives, the group behind the protests.

Motivated by mass shootings from Uvalde, Texas to Buffalo, New York, protesters say lawmakers must take note of shifting public opinion and finally act.

In Uvalde, a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers. That shooting happened on 24 Mei, 10 days after a gunman murdered 10 people in a grocery store in Buffalo, New York, in a racist attack.

Organizers expect the second March for Our Lives to draw around 50,000 to the Washington Monument. The original 2018 march filled downtown Washington with meer as 200,000 mense. Hierdie keer, organizers are focusing on holding smaller marches at an estimated 300 plekke.

“We want to make sure that this work is happening across the country,” said Daud Mumin, co-chair of the march board of directors and a recent graduate of Westminster College in Salt Lake City. “This work is not just about DC, it’s not just about senators.”

The first march was spurred by the 14 Februarie 2018 killings of 14 students and three staff members by a former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

That massacre sparked the creation of the youth-led March For Our Lives movement, which successfully pressured the Republican-dominated Florida government to enact gun reforms.

The Parkland students then took aim at gun laws in other states and nationally, holding the big rally in Washington on 24 Maart 2018.

The group did not match the Florida results at the national level but has persisted in advocating for gun restrictions, as well as participating in voter registration drives.

Nou, with a string of mass shootings bringing gun control back into the national conversation, organizers say the time is right to renew their national push.

“Right now we are angry,” said Mariah Cooley, a March For Our Lives board member and a senior at Howard University in Washington. “This will be a demonstration to show that us as Americans, we’re not stopping anytime soon until Congress does their jobs. And if not, we’ll be voting them out.”

The protest comes at a time of renewed political activity on guns and a crucial moment for possible action in Congress.

Survivors of mass shootings and other incidents of gun violence have lobbied legislators and testified on Capitol Hill. Among them this week 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 with a dead classmate’s blood to avoid being shot.

Op Dinsdag, the actor Matthew McConaughey appeared at the White House briefing room to press for gun legislation and made highly personal remarks about the violence in his hometown, Uvalde.

Among other policies, March for Our Lives has called for an assault weapons ban, universal background checks for gun purchases and a national licensing system, which would register gun owners.

The House has passed bills that would raise the age limit to buy 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 agreement this week on a framework for addressing the issue and talked on Friday, but did not announce a deal.

Mumin referred to the Senate as “where substantive action goes to die”, and said the new march was meant to spend a message to lawmakers that public opinion on gun control is shifting under their feet.

“If they’re not on our side, there are going to be consequences – voting them out of office and making their lives a living hell when they’re in office," hy het gesê.

Speakers at the Washington rally include David Hogg and X Gonzalez, Parkland survivors and co-founders of March for Our Lives; Becky Pringle and Randi Weingarten, presidents of the two largest US teachers unions; and Yolanda King, the granddaughter of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.

Members of March for Our Lives have spent the week meeting with lawmakers in Washington to discuss gun violence.

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