Massive crowds rally across US to urge tighter gun controls
Hundreds of thousands of Americans galvanized by last month’s Florida school massacre rallied on Saturday at nationwide March For Our Lives protests led by students demanding tighter gun laws, Reuters reports.
Carrying signs with slogans including “If they choose guns over our kids, vote them out,” protesters in Washington jammed Pennsylvania Avenue as students from the Parkland, Florida, high school where 17 people were killed called on lawmakers and President Donald Trump to confront the issue.
The massive rallies aim to break a legislative gridlock that has long stymied efforts to increase restrictions on firearms sales in a nation where mass shootings like the one on Feb. 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have become frighteningly common.
“Politicians: either represent the people or get out. Stand with us or beware, the voters are coming,” Cameron Kasky, a 17-year-old junior at the high school, told the crowd.
Another Parkland survivor, David Hogg, said the sun was shining on a new day. “You can hear the people in power shaking,” he said to loud applause.
“We’re going to make sure the best people get in our elections to run not as politicians, but as Americans. Because this - this - is not cutting it,” he said, pointing at the white-domed Capitol. “We can and we will change the world!”
Television images showed youthful marchers filling streets in cities across the United States including Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and New York.
More than 800 demonstrations were set to take place in the United States and around the world, according to coordinators, with sister events taking place as far afield as London, Mauritius and Stockholm.
Organizers want the U.S. Congress, many of whose members are up for re-election in November, to ban the sale of assault weapons like the one used in the Florida rampage and to tighten background checks for gun buyers. On the other side of the debate, gun rights advocates cite constitutional guarantees of the right to bear arms.
In Los Angeles, marcher Carly Dutcher, a high school freshman from Studio City, California, said she was shocked when a theater teacher showed her and her classmates how they could pull a tampon dispenser off a bathroom wall and use it to battle a school shooter.
“Regardless if I can vote or not, it (gun violence) is the most important issue affecting me and the most important issue in the country right now,” Dutcher said.