Once in a while, the nation is swept by a new mass shooting tragedy and with school shootings specifically on the rise, it can seem like nothing is being done, but history has taught us that marching on Washington can be a big step in the right direction.
The recent shooting at Parkland High School in Florida is considered to be the worst school shooting since the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, 2012. The students of Parkland High School have become the faces of a new movement for gun control and school safety. Using the momentum of the Parkland shooting, The March for Our Lives is encouraging adults to think about gun control as an issue that is bigger than the right to possess firearm and as an issue that directly affects families and children.
Like any other movement, The March for Our Lives is not free of fault. For example, the movement fails to address gun control in the state and law enforcement; although gun control for civilians will prevent some violence, gun violence initiated by the state is one that disproportionately affects people of color and the disabled. During the Galesburg March for Our Lives, both adults and students stated the need for gun control focused on the protection of the lives of people of color. The national March for Our Lives movement should also allow and encourage such commentary in its advocacy for gun control. Furthermore, the movement’s focus on mental illnesses as a cause of violence contributes to the demonization of the neurodivergent and is inherently ableist. Nevertheless, there has not been any organized effort for gun control that has had as much support as the March for Our Lives.
Besides its intersectionality, another unique feature of the Galesburg March on Our Lives was that the effort was organized by a group of students of color who were mentored by established activist groups. The local march set a great example of how to include the voices of the marginazlied and how to organize without leaving anyone behind.
As an Editorial Board, we advocate for better gun control because we believe schools and streets alike should be free of violence. We demand stricter regulations and background checks for all gun owners, the abolition of open-carry laws, the prohibition of assault rifles for civilians, better gun violence training for law enforcement officers and harsher punishments for officers and civilians who abuse their gun privuleges.
We recognize that other movements, including recently the Black Lives Matter movement, have been trying to tackle gun violence and advocate for gun control for much longer than the March for Our Lives movement has. We also believe that any conversation surrounding gun violence that dismisses the efforts of BLM or disregards gun control in the state is one that is too shallow and one that will not fix the problem in the long run. We need to be actively engaging in dialogue about making guns less easily accessible as a way to progress as a nation in unity with its youth, its people of color and its disabled members.