Julia M. Walters
March 24 proved to be an impactful day for our country. All across the nation, students joined together and rallied in support of increased gun control during the March for Our Lives.
March For Our Lives is a movement that is completely student-run, and was inspired by the tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida where 17 students were killed.
“If adults weren’t going to take action, we would…To those people that tell us teenagers can’t do anything, I say that we were the only people who could’ve made this possible,” said Alex Wind, a Douglas High School senior, who delivered a powerful speech at the event on the influence that students can have over this country.
The event in D.C. had an incredible turnout, with over 850,000 supporters marching in support of gun control. The majority of the crowd held hand-made signs with phrases such as “Enough is Enough,” “NRA: America’s #1 Terrorist Organization,” and “Schools are for learning, not lockdown.”
Among the supporters of the march were well-known celebrities who performed, such as Miley Cyrus, Demi Lovato, Ariana Grande, and Jennifer Hudson.
As well as these performances, some of the Parkland, Florida and Newtown, Connecticut students who were affected by the shootings at their schools delivered powerful speeches about their experiences with gun violence and voiced their strong opinions on why gun control is so important for the safety of our country.
Parkland student Jaclyn Corin said during her speech, “We cannot ‘keep America great’ if we cannot keep America safe,” referencing President Trump’s infamous campaign slogan “Make America Great Again.”
A huge theme throughout the event was getting people to register to vote and participate in the upcoming midterm elections which will occur on November 6. Since Congress is responsible for what laws get passed, gun control laws depend on their active support and participation.
Throughout the event, the crowd would chant “Vote them out!” periodically which reminded everyone of the point of this event: if enough politicians who are supportive of gun control legislation get elected into Congress in November, there is hope for stricter gun laws nationwide. The large emphasis placed on the power of voters, especially students with the ability to vote, is a huge part of why this event took place. The idea is to get the word out to students that they can hold the power for change to happen; therefore, they need to go out and make it happen.
Another theme throughout this event was the fact that gun control is a bipartisan issue. One speaker, Sarah Chapwick who is a student from Parkland, eloquently said “One life is worth all the guns in America…This is not a red versus blue issue; this is a morals issue.”
The polarized state of this nation regarding the political parties should not be a concern when it comes to gun control, according to the students running this event. “Together we are whole; together we are one. Look to your left; look to your right. I see brothers and sisters” said one of the student speakers.
Though the entire event was filled with speakers that delivered an enormous amount of power and emotion, perhaps one of the most impactful moments was one that involved no speech at all. Emma Gonzalez, who is a Parkland survivor and who was one of the main organizers for the event, gave a passionate speech.
For the first two minutes of her speech, Gonzalez spoke about the length of time the school shooting lasted, which was six minutes and twenty seconds. She then remained silent for the next four minutes.
Gonzalez explained this moment of silence by saying: “Since the time that I came out here, it has been six minutes and twenty seconds. The shooter has ceased shooting and will soon abandon his rifle, blend in with the students as they escape, and walk free for an hour before arrest.”
“The march is not the climax of this movement. It is the beginning.” Cameron Kasky, a Parkland student said it best when he described that the March for Our Lives rally is not the end of gun control awareness.