It is almost two months after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Almost one month after the March for Our Lives Rally. The proposed legislation suggests the power of marches do help move the needle even if by a small margin.
It would be hopeful to think that the current administration in office is hearing the concerns of the people who these guns directly affect. That the signs stating “enough is enough” were not just a mere demonstration of clever alliteration or wordplay, they were a loud roar trying to preserve the very fabric of America’s future. The next generation. More young people, millennials, are dying to gun violence inside and outside of school each week. Most recently a 3-year-old boy T'Rhigi Diggs was killed in a drive-by shooting while sleeping in his car seat in Dekalb County Georgia on April 1, 2018.
The history of marches plays a very poignant role in America. Rallies and marches underline what America is all about a democratic society that allows the community to challenge the government and push for a change of laws and legislation. In 1913 the women’s suffragette parade, 1963 The March on Washington, 1974 The March for Life, 2017 Women’s March became the empowerment that led to subsequent movements like the future is female. What is consistent with all these marches coupled with continuous activism is that they ignited some type of change. These marches did not happen in vain.
Four years after the women’s suffragette movement, the 19th amendment was added to the constitution giving women the right to vote. The March on Washington was the catalyst that helped pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. What holds true is that the battle is constant and the results are not immediate.
After the March For Our Lives Rallies, school walkouts across the nation have taken place and an additional walkout at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is set to take place April 20, 2018. Young people are quickly finding themselves stepping into roles of activism a testament to the generation. A generation forced into activism because movie theaters, schools, and churches/places of worship all became an unforeseen battleground.
“We are up here standing together because if all our government and President can do is send thoughts and prayers, then it’s time for victims to be the change that we need to see,” said Emma Gonzalez a survivor of the Parkland, Florida shooting during The March for Our Lives Rally.
The new legislation proposals:
Congress right now is considering Fix NICS Act, this act seeks to ensure that authorities report criminal records to the system. Second, the Manchin-Toomey this will “extend background checks for internet and gun show sales, while also including exemptions for friends and family,” as reported by The Hill. The Senate is also proposing more extensive background checks on gun purchases. Senators are debating whether the federal law is too vague in that it hinders schools from reporting dangerous students to law enforcement. Also being proposed is an increase of the minimum age for purchasing a firearm from 18 to 21. Last, the Congress has proposed the possible ban of all assault weapons and a ban on bump stock devices which are used to increase a gun’s shooting range, which allows the gun act as an automatic weapon.
Whether this legislation is drafted or passed anytime soon, the importance is recognizing the small strides. March for Our Lives may have impacted the government’s hastiness in creating these proposals, and that is one way the march has already instigated change.
WBUR Radio spoke with Lois Beckett who addressed a very big part of achieving a turning point with new legislation “What really matters is what happens in the 2018 midterms,” Beckett said. “If pro-gun lawmakers are voted out because of the actions of students then this march will have made a big difference.”
Along with marches the most important thing to do is replicate the turnout of participants at voting polls at every level from townships elections, to presidential elections.

 

*All images by James Cullum