The March for Our lives was a massive protest against gun violence that took place in Washington D.C. and over 800 other cities around the world on Mar. 24, 2018. It was announced by survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting just four days after the tragedy, with the goal of pressuring the government to pass “common sense gun laws.”
The student organizers of this march hope to accomplish several things: provide the CDC with funds to investigate gun violence as a federal health issue, eliminate restrictions on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF)—a federal agency with the authority to regulate the gun industry—and make universal background checks mandatory for anyone attempting to purchase a firearm. They also aim to limit the use of high-powered automatic or semi-automatic weapons to the military in order to reduce the likelihood of more mass shootings.
Support for the march in the weeks preceding it was widespread. Celebrities Oprah Winfrey and George Clooney each donated $500,000 to the cause and were active in encouraging others to donate as well. Zendaya, Millie Bobby Brown and John Cena all used their platform at the Kid’s Choice Awards to promote the march to 30 million viewers. Celebrity endorsement of the March for Our Lives contributed to a large turnout at many of the events around the world.
The March for Our Lives in Washington D.C. was the largest in the world, drawing hundreds of thousands of protesters from all over the nation. Speakers, including several students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas Senior High, took the stand to discuss the issues they were rallying for. Senior Emma Gonzalez delivered a particularly moving speech in which she honored the lives of her fallen classmates and called on Americans to fight for their safety before it is too late. Her speech lasted exactly six minutes and twenty seconds, the same amount of time that there was an active shooter inside Marjory Stoneman Douglas Senior High.
Other speakers who have had personal experience with gun violence followed, including Edna Chavez, a 17-year-old high school student from Los Angeles who described the normalcy of gun violence in her childhood, “I learned to duck from bullets before I learned how to read,” Chavez said. Edna Chavez went on to explain how guns ultimately claimed the life of her brother, Ricardo Chavez, who was fatally shot in front of her when he was in high school. As the crowd chanted Ricardo’s name, Chavez called on the community to make their voices heard and demand change.
Yolanda Renee King, the 9-year old granddaughter of Martin Luther King Jr., also made an appearance at the rally in Washington D.C. “I have a dream that enough is enough,” she said. “This should be a gun-free world. Period.” As her speech came to a close, King led the crowd in a cheer emphasizing that, “We are going to be a great generation.”
Although the march in Washington D.C. was the largest, the “sibling protests” which took place around the nation were also well attended.
The March for Our Lives at Parkland consisted of people from all over the nation who came both to protest and to pay their respects to the victims of the shooting that took place there. Over 50 Coral Gables Senior High students drove up to Parkland to participate.
“I went to the march because I personally live by the motto of ‘actions speak louder than words.’ I think that doing these marches, in which large masses of people from all over the nation are participating, delivers a clear statement to the representatives in government,” freshman Chloe Grant said.
Enthusiasm for reformation of American gun laws even spread abroad. March for Our Lives protests took place all over the world: from Brussels, Belgium to Maputo, Mozambique.
Survivors of the shooting in Parkland, Florida even spoke at the march that took place in front of the US embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel. Freshman Eden Hebron moved the crowd to tears as she recollected watching her best friend, Alyssa Alhadeff, and two other classmates die in front of her. “I am still in disbelief, but I will not allow anyone else to see the things I saw, to prepare for your final seconds of life like I did,” Hebron said. “Gun control laws are not just for the United States, they are for all of humanity.”
These protests, characterized by some as the ‘tipping point in the fight for gun control,’ has put additional pressure upon politicians to approve laws regulating the sale of guns in America.
“I think especially the protest today has sparked a movement and totally added pressure on the politicians,” sophomore Kylie Coulombe said.
Regardless of the possible effects of the March for Our lives, the high turnout and talented speakers at the event make it a success for all who believe in the cause. People in over 800 locations came out to support what they believe in and help turn the event into a movement.