Millions of citizens across the United States came together on March 24 to participate in the March for Our Lives, an organized, peaceful protest against the National Rifle Association (NRA) and pro-gun politicians.
The march was an attempt to draw attention to what protesters perceived as a lack of gun regulation and demand that improvements be made. The student-led demonstration originated in Washington, D.C. and sparked over 800 sibling marches through the nation. CBS News dubbed the March for Our Lives “one of the biggest youth protests since the Vietnam era,” praising the activism and passion of the post-millennial generation.
Professor of Political Science Andrew Dzeguze agrees. “At a personal level, I was moved by the strength and resiliency shown by so many of the young speakers at the march, as well as the outpouring of support for them,” said Dzeguze. “They were eloquent and bold and spoke with passion and conviction, which you see a lot with youth movements,” he continued, describing the inclusivity and overall welcoming attitude of the attendees. “What stood out for me was how the lineup of speakers was diverse and consciously inclusive and the crowd was mutually encouraging in a way that is something of a hallmark of this generation.”
Second-year Sophie Harper attended the variation of the march held at her hometown of Spokane, Washington. Harper described how the march in her town exemplified the same youthful passion described by Dzeguze. “[It was] completely student-planned, organized, and led,” said Harper. “Students from Lewis and Clark High School and Ferris High School were in charge, and students from Ferris spoke.”
In 2003, a student brought a loaded 9-millimeter handgun to Lewis and Clark High School, where he took three students and one teacher hostage in a science classroom. He was shot by police and is still alive, though permanently injured. In 2005, an expelled freshman returned to his high school with a loaded gun, intending to kill a teacher. He was arrested, and no one was shot.
Harper described how many attendees came armed with signs with slogans such as, “You can put a gun on a silencer, but not on the voice of the people,” and “Is freedom more important than safety?”A child brought a sign saying, “I can’t even bring peanut butter to school.” Harper said, “I believe that the U.S. has an issue with guns and that something needs to be done. Supporting the March for Our Lives gives me the ability to speak up for what I believe in.”
The marches may be over, but The March for Our Lives movement has plans for the future. The organization’s website, www.marchforourlives.com features a tab titled ‘Vote For Our Lives’ Here, people are encouraging visitors to register and vote in the upcoming 2018 primary elections in an attempt to bring the movement from the streets and into political offices.
For more on March for Our Lives, see “Are students finally getting a say in government?” on page 2.