“Welcome to the revolution.” This is one of the first phrases I heard by student speaker Cameron Kasky while attending the March For Our Lives rally in Washington D.C. this past Saturday, March 24th. This movement is completely inspired and led by students in the wake of awful gun violence situations that happen far too often in our country. Specifically, this movement was created in response to the tragic shooting that happened in Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, which killed seventeen people, the majority of which were students.
The rally was a profound experience from beginning to end. With over 850,000 people filling the areas of 3rd street to 12th street, people were completely shoulder-to-shoulder with very little wiggle room. I ended up being right in the thick of it. While I got shoved around much of the time, I loved every minute of it. The crowd had a remarkable energy, unlike any other crowd I had ever been part of before. All around me, I saw strangers coming together like a family. I saw people get moved to tears in response to the powerful student speakers. I felt the anger against President Trump, Congress, and the NRA who have caused so much hostility and are the true enemies of change regarding gun control legislation. One of the main messages I took away from the march was the fact that students and young people, in general, do have the power to create change, even in a world that seems stuck in its 18th-century laws.
As students, we play an imperative role in the future of this country. On November 6th, 2018, there will be midterm elections, which is where we get to vote on who gets to hold a seat in Congress. It is up to us to do our research and vote for the politicians who are supportive of gun control and who will pass the appropriate legislation so that America can finally get the change it so desperately needs. As I heard so often at the March For Our Lives rally, gun control is not a bipartisan issue. This affects every man, woman, and child living in America. As long as no legislation is passed for increased gun control and background checks, we will continue to live each day in fear of gun violence. It is not only tragic but completely unnecessary. It doesn’t have to be this way. The 2nd Amendment to our Constitution and gun control can co-exist without impeding on each other. As Alex Wind, a student speaker from Parkland said, “No gun-related legislation has been passed in this country since 2008 – 10 years ago. Since 2008, there have been at least 95 mass shootings in this country…it needs to stop.” The time for increased gun legislation was in 2012 after the Sandy Hook shooting. It was time after the San Bernardino shooting in 2015. It was time after the 2016 shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. It was time after the Las Vegas concert shooting in 2017. The time was years ago after these incidents of gun violence and all the other related incidents in between, and the time is today. The shooting in Parkland has hopefully sparked a flame of change in our society.
I am so proud to have been part of such a phenomenal movement that promotes active gun control. After the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, I lost any and all hope that any gun reform would happen. If the murderous deaths of 20 children was not enough to inspire increased gun control and background checks, what else would inspire change? As the years passed by, with more deplorable shootings occurring within those years, I truly gave up believing in gun reform. However, being part of the crowd at March For Our Lives instilled a newfound hope in me that I haven’t felt in years. The energy I felt simple from being part of this crowd was an inspiring and emotional experience.
In the face of so much hopelessness and despair, it can feel like it isn’t worth it to believe that any gun control reform could actually happen. But somehow, I found hope again in the crowd, among 850,000 strangers who believe in the same future that I do. After attending the March For Our Lives rally, it feels like change is real, it can happen, and I can believe in it again.