“We just want our children to stop getting shot in schools,” said Colorado father and teacher Kyle Burch.
And he’s not the only one. Protesters in cities across the country on Saturday flooded the streets with the most aggressive call to action yet from a student movement that emerged after the recent massacre of a Florida high school. And Denver was one of them. Thousands filled the Civic Center Park with homemade signs, heavy hearts, and a deep conviction. People of all ages, ethnicities and backgrounds have come together in the state capital for a single mission – to end gun violence.
“Nothing happened after Columbine” expressed Colorado native and father Steve Riedel. “I was in Columbine and experienced the dead silence and sheer sorrow that was in the air that day. I listened to these parents after their children were shot in the face. It’s twenty years later and nothing has changed. “
The atmosphere on Saturday was comparable to the atmosphere that Riedel expressed after the shooting of Columbine, silent and heavy. And while, as with all protests, the collective energy was fueled by numbers and anger, this march was different because this time people marched for the lives of their babies. These were parents who marched for their middle school students, juniors and seniors who marched for their classmates, and grandmothers who marched for their grandchildren.
“We’re grandmothers,” said former teacher and headmistress Dorothy Schepps. “I was a teacher and am now a grandmother. The thought that my loved ones go to school and fear for their lives is unimaginable. If there is anything I can do to end this fear by being here today, I must march. “
Parents, grandparents and former educators surfaced in waves on Saturday, making it clear that they would no longer allow leadership complacency and stagnant politics to put their communities at risk.
“I want assault weapons from civilians,” said Frank Tapy, board member of Together Colorado. “It’s crazy that any idiot can buy an assault rifle. There are so many things that we can do. We need major reforms and gun control, and that doesn’t mean we’re taking all guns away, but the people who shouldn’t have guns have to keep those guns off of them, and we need legislators to get off their asses and make that happen . “
Gun legislation in the US has stagnated somewhat in the past. In the aftermath of the Florida shooting, a House committee approved a bill to do so Increase the minimum age to purchase rifles from 18 to 21 years and creates a three-day waiting period for all gun buyers. However, the bill is only “a small step in solving a national crisis,” said Maddy King, a sophomore at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School who survived last month’s shooting.
King was one of many speakers from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School – the youngest film location in Florida – who spoke at nationwide protests. When she took the stage in Denver’s Civic Center Park on Saturday, the crowd fell silent and gave the teenager their full attention.
On February 14 at 2:25 p.m., the fire alarm was triggered for the second time that day. The difference between this fire alarm and almost every other fire alarm was that we heard gunshots almost immediately after it went off, ”explained King. “My classmates and I panicked. We didn’t know what was going on. “Who do I know who was just shot?” I asked myself. “Will I make it home?” I borrowed my friend’s phone to text my mom. “It’s Maddy … shooter at school … it’s on the news … I’m safe … I love you.”
Seventeen students died that day. And this is just one of many mass shootings that have taken place in the United States in recent years. Since Columbine in 1999, according to a year-long analysis by the Washington Post, more than 187,000 students attending at least 193 elementary or secondary schools have shot on campus while in school. Unfortunately, since the lives of citizens are changed by violence, politics to end it does not seem to be doing the same. And Saturday’s March for Our Life Protests made it clear that the public is no longer willing to accept thoughts, prayers, and complacency. Many who are calling for reform are in favor of restricting public access to weapons. However, some would rather see an increase in carriers.
If passed, the Florida bill would also create a program that would allow teachers to receive law enforcement training and be represented by the local sheriff’s office Carrying hidden weapons in the classroom. A move that King believes is not the solution.
“How do we change that?” She asked the trapped crowd. “How do we stop another shooting at school? “I can tell you how we don’t. by caring for our weapons more than our children. Arming teachers is not the answer. My 60 year old science teacher cannot be expected to shoot any of her shots at a student she may have taught. ‘“
The debate between lawmakers and the community over gun regulation is long and heated. From proposals to ban bump stocks, to arming teachers, to tightening background controls, many ideas have been proposed but not yet implemented. Regardless of your attitude, a feeling across party lines and opinions seems true. Nobody should feel like wondering if their daughters and sons will make it out of school alive. “This shouldn’t be allowed to happen again,” King concluded. “It shouldn’t have happened at all.”
More information on the #MarchForOurLives movement can be found here.