Thousands of students converged on Washington DC in what was billed as a ‘March for Our Lives’ on Saturday. An estimated 500,000 people, including celebrities such as George Clooney, Demi Lovato and Kim Kardashian, have joined the protest to call for stricter gun laws in the wake of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, which left 17 dead on Valentine’s Day.
Across the US and internationally, sister marches have been held in solidarity with those in the American capital. Outside the US consulate in Edinburgh, the protestors included Andrew and Ali Ross, who lost their sister Joanna in the last school shooting to take place in the UK at Dunblane Primary School in 1996. The Edinburgh march was supported by Dunblane No Guns.
Performances and speeches have been delivered on the main stage near the White House. Delaney Tarr – a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, where the shooting took place in February – spoke, saying: “We will continue to fight for our dead friends.”
The White House released a statement saying: “We applaud the many courageous young Americans exercising their First Amendment rights today.”
Gun control is one of the most contentious issues in American politics. Many, including the heavily influential NRA, see any restriction on access to weapons as a violation of their Second Amendment right to bear arms.
One of the most vocal in the campaign leading the march is David Hogg, a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High. He said today that the march would “start a revolution” and that students are “sick and tired of the inaction here in Washington and around the country”. Since the attack last month, Florida has introduced a law to raise the legal age of buying rifles. However, this is being challenged in the courts by the NRA. President Trump came out in support of raising the minimum age limit, but reversed his opinion after dinner with an NRA representative.
Many students on the march carried placards that carried an eerie message of the fear that students can experience by just going to school.
Students are now calling for a school walkout across the US on April 20 to mark the 19th anniversary of the Columbine massacre. The organisers of ‘March for Our Lives’ are expected to turn their attention to November’s midterm elections, where all of the US House of Representatives, a third of the US Senate and numerous Governor and state legislator positions are up for grabs.
Students are expected to use their voice, proven to be influential by the fact that numerous companies were shamed into dropping links with the NRA, to back pro-gun reform candidates. One student told Florida’s state legislator in a speech at the state capitol that “we are too young to vote, but soon we will be able to vote, and we will vote you out”.