Four years after Parkland shooting, advocates urge lawmakers to take action on gun control

It’s been four years since survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting sparked an international movement calling for an end to gun violence. Since then, more than a hundred thousand Americans have been killed with guns. Advocates from the group March For Our Lives say lawmakers’ inaction is costing people’s lives.

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Parkland shooting survivors and their family members wanted to send lawmakers a message they could not ignore. So last week they used more than a thousand body bags to spell out the words “thoughts and prayers” on the National Mall.

It’s a phrase often repeated by elected officials after deadly shootings and one that rings hollow for survivors of gun violence and their families, as the number of victims continues to rise day after day, year after year.

Looking out the windows of the United States Capitol, activists hoped members of Congress would see rows of body bags, looking too real, and find the political will to pass gun control measures.

“We hope seeing body bags on the National Mall will touch their conscience. And if not, we have to ask ourselves, what would? said Noah Lumbantobing, press officer for March For Our Lives.

“If thinking about the thousands of children’s lives that have been lost over the past few years…doesn’t inspire you to act, we have to ask ourselves what will.”

According to the organization, more than 170,000 Americans have died from gun violence since the Parkland shooting, citing data from the Gun Violence Archives.

“It’s a matter of life and death – for children, for adults,” Lumbantobing said. “There is not a community in the country that is not affected by armed violence. It is not a question of left or right. It’s an American problem. »

March For Our Lives makes it clear that America’s gun violence crisis does not end with mass shootings at schools, businesses and places of worship – horrific events that devastate entire communities and capture national attention. and international.

The group also highlights the much more common shootings that result in only a few deaths: cases of intimate partner violence, accidental shootings, youth violence and suicides.

According to Pew Research Centersuicides have long accounted for the majority of gun deaths in the United States

Speaking to reporters at the National Mall last week, March For Our Lives co-founder and Parkland survivor David Hogg said the stories of these victims and survivors too often go unnoticed and unreported.

“When people ask me, ‘David, are you worried about the next Parkland?’ I say no. I’m worried about tonight. Because there are several Parklands happening every day in this country that don’t make the headlines. Who can’t speak in front of the Capitol. Who never have their voices or their stories told,” he said.

According to Giffords Law Center to prevent gun violenceon average, 110 Americans die each day from gun violence, totaling some 41,000 people each year.

To address the issue, March For Our Lives is calling on Congress to pass a universal background check bill. One April 2021 Quinnipiac University Poll shows overwhelming support for the measure, with some 89% of Americans saying all gun buyers should be subject to background checks.

Yet the Senate still hasn’t put the measure to a vote, even after Democrats narrowly won control of both houses of Congress.

Lawyers are demanding lawmakers act and give them a warning before the 2022 midterm elections. Hogg said incumbents who haven’t done enough to affect change should prepare for a major challenge .

“The gun violence prevention movement does not represent the Democratic Party. He does not represent the Republican Party,” Hogg said. “He represents the future. We represent the future of wanting to make our schools and communities safer.”

It’s been four years since the group of Broward County high school students sparked a political movement that swept the country and inspired one of the largest youth protests since the Vietnam War, prompting more than a million people to take to the streets and call for change. .

Activists say elected officials haven’t done enough to make Americans safer from gun violence. However, Lumbantobing still has hope.

“I think the march four years ago testified to the depth of that hope. The march of millions of people across the country in hundreds, if not thousands of communities spoke of the depth and breadth of where that hope lives,” he said. “It lives in young people.”

“We see a way forward. We can see above the top of the mountain. We can see a secure, giving and nurturing future,” added Lumbantobing. “We know it’s possible.”

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