Wherever you stand on the prevailing issue of gun control, there’s no denying that history was made with the massive March for Our Lives protest in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, March 24.
Organized by students after a mass shooting with an AR-15 at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on Feb. 14 took the lives of 17 people, the demonstration in the nation’s capital drew an estimated 800,000 protesters and around two million people in rallies held across the United States and around the world, including one in Scranton, making it one of the largest protests in American history.
Asking that this “never again” happen, people of all ages gathered to demand a ban on “assault weapons” and “high-capacity magazines,” the implementation of “universal, comprehensive background checks;” the creation of a modern “digitized, searchable” gun database for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; and “funds for the Center for Disease Control to research the gun violence epidemic in America,” according to the March for Our Lives mission statement.
Local students also traveled to Washington to make their voices heard. Among those thousands of demonstrators was NEPA Scene photographer Robb Malloy, who was there to capture the colorful signs and the messages and faces behind them. He offered his own account of what he observed that day:
It was a very well-organized and peaceful event. Most of the marchers were high school kids and teens. Also, there were many parents with their children and, to my surprise, a lot of teachers. Everyone seemed very passionate about their cause. I saw many people crying – many were angry at their legislators and politicians. It seemed most of the demonstrators were all in agreement that something has to be done about gun violence. I got the impression that the kids will continue their cause well after this event. They seemed very driven. I also met a woman from Sandy Hook and she told me that she thought something would be done after the tragedy at her kids’ school, but nothing changed. She said the reason she drove all the way from Connecticut is because she believes in and supports the kids from Parkland and this time the kids have the power to force change with their vote.
This will not be the end of the gun debate in America, but it has sent a powerful message to legislators that it is not going away after one news cycle. In a nation where mass shootings are now commonplace, millions have made it clear that they feel “enough is enough” and something must finally change to help prevent future tragedies. Will this be the generation to make it happen?
by Rich Howells
Rich is an award-winning journalist, longtime blogger, adequate photographer, podcast co-host, and practicing poet. He is the founder and editor of NEPA Scene.