In a historic day of action, more than 800 protests were held Saturday urging lawmakers to pass gun control. In Washington, organizers say 800,000 took part in the March for Our Lives, which was organized by students who survived the February 14 shooting massacre at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. In New York, another 150,000 took to the streets; 85,000 rallied in Chicago; 55,000 marched in Los Angeles. Tens of thousands also rallied in Atlanta and Pittsburgh. In Washington, DC, survivors of gun violence — from Parkland to Chicago — shared the stage to decry the power of the National Rifle Association and to demand an end to the violence. We air highlights of the speeches.
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AMY GOODMAN: In a historic day of action, there were more than 800 protests on Saturday urging lawmakers to pass gun control. In Washington, DC, alone, organizers say up to 800,000 people took part in the March for Our Lives, which was organized by students who survived the February 14th shooting massacre at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. In New York, another 150,000 people took to the streets; 85,000 rallied in Chicago; 55,000 marched in Los Angeles. Tens of thousands also rallied in Atlanta and Pittsburgh. And 20,000 people gathered in Parkland, Florida.
Demands from the students include a ban on semiautomatic weapons that fire high-velocity rounds; a ban on accessories that simulate automatic weapons; the establishment of a database of gun sales and universal background checks; the closing of gun show and secondhand sales loopholes; to allow the CDC, the Centers for Disease Control, to make recommendations for gun reform; and raise the firearm purchase age to 21; and to change privacy laws to let mental healthcare providers communicate with law enforcement.
Well, today we air voices from Saturday’s March for Our Lives in Washington, DCSpeakers at the march included survivors of the Parkland, Florida, shooting, as well as young people from around the country who have been impacted by gun violence. We begin with Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School junior Cameron Kasky, who survived the school shooting on February 14th.
CAMERON KASKY: To the leaders, skeptics and cynics who told us to “sit down and stay silent, wait your turn,” welcome to the revolution. It is a powerful and peaceful one, because it is of, by and for the young people of this country.
My name is Cameron Kasky. Since this movement began, people have asked me, “Do you think any change is going to come from this?” Look around. We are the change. Everybody here is standing with the future of our society. And for that, I thank you.
My generation, having spent our entire lives seeing mass shooting after mass shooting, has learned that our voices are powerful, and our votes matter. We must educate ourselves and start conversations that keep our country moving forward. And we will. We hereby promise to fix the broken system we’ve been forced into, and create a better world for the generations to come. Don”t worry, we’ve got this.
The people of this country now see past the lies. We’ve seen this narrative before. For the first time, the corrupt aren”t controlling our story. We are. The corrupt aren”t manipulating the facts. We know the truth. Shooting after shooting, the American people now see one thing they all have in common: the weapons.
Politicians, either represent the people or get out. The people demand a law banning the sale of assault weapons. The people demand we prohibit the sale of high-capacity magazines. The people demand universal background checks. Stand for us or beware. The voters are coming.
On February 14th, tragedy struck my hometown and my school, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High. Alyssa Alhadeff, Scott Beigel, Martin Duque Anguiano, Aaron Feis, Jaime Guttenberg, Chris Hixon, Luke Hoyer, Cara Loughran, Gina Montalto, Joaquin Oliver, Alaina Petty, Meadow Pollack, Helena Ramsay, Alex Schachter, Carmen Schentrup, Peter Wang and Nicholas Dworet all lost their lives in less than seven minutes. And I saved Nicholas for the end, because today is Nicholas”s birthday. Nicholas, we are all here for you. Happy birthday. Their families endured great pain. Many others were injured. And thousands of young people, my classmates, were forced to become adults, and were targeted as adults. We have to do this for them. We must stand beside those we’ve lost, and fix the world that betrayed them.
This doesn’t just happen in schools. Americans are being attacked in churches, nightclubs, movie theaters and on the streets. But we, the people, can fix this. For the first time in a long while, I look forward 10 years, and I feel hope. I see light. I see a system I’ll be proud of. But it all starts with you. The march is not the climax of this movement, it is the beginning. It is the springboard off of which my generation and all who stand with us will jump into a safer future. Today is a bad day for tyranny and corruption. Today, we take to the streets in over 800 marches around the globe and demand commonsense gun laws.
MYA MIDDLETON: I’m Mya Middleton, and I”m 16 years old. I’m here because I have been personally affected by the lack of gun control, and I believe guns have taken over the minds of individuals who want an easy way out of their dilemma. Chicago goes through this every day, and you don”t realize how much of a toll it is taking on our city, until you see it in our communities, you see it on someone you know, you see it on someone like me.
Freshman year in high school, I wanted to get some things from the store for my mom, because she was sick. I remember pulling on all these clothes and going out in 10-or-so-degree weather. It was so cold. Get to the store, grabbing all this stuff, thinking, “Maybe she needs this, maybe she needs that,” and finally getting into line.
This guy in front of me all of a sudden gets upset because he didn”t have enough money to pay for the things that he wanted to buy. He gets out of line and starts trashing the store, throwing everything over the floor, pushing carts, just making a fool out of himself.
So, finally, when I check out, I walk to the door, and I’m ready to go, when I hear a scream and a bang. I turn around and see he”s grabbing all this stuff, pushing it into every crevice of his body, trying to grab as much as he can — when he finally turns to me.
He comes towards me, and I couldn”t move. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t talk. I couldn’t think. All I remember is seeing dark jeans coming towards me. He pulls out this silver pistol and points it in my face, and said these words, that to this day haunt me and give me nightmares. He said, “If you said anything, I will find you.” And yet I”m still saying something today.
Guns have long scared our children, corrupted our adults and publicly silenced our government. Guns have become the voice of America, and the government is becoming more negligent by this predicament by the day. Join me in sharing my pain and my anger. Help us by screaming to the government that we are tired of crying for help to a group of people that have turned their backs on us, despite their reassurance of making our country safer.
AMY GOODMAN: Sixteen-year-old Mya Middleton from Chicago, speaking at the March for Our Lives in Washington, DC. We’ll return with more voices of protest in a moment.