Thousands of people marched in downtown St. Louis on Saturday morning to protest gun violence and advocate for stricter gun control.
Saturday’s March for Our Lives event was a culmination of a month-long effort to honor the 17 people killed during the Feb. 14 school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Survivors of the shooting helped organize the rally in Washington, D.C., with sister marches occurring across the U.S. — including the one in St. Louis — and around the world.
As a light rain fell, demonstrators chanted and carried signs reading “enough is enough” and “make our schools safe again.”
“I’m tired of going to school and being afraid that I’m not going to make it home,” said Nerinx Hall High School senior Emily Smith. “I’m tired of telling my mom goodbye and wondering if it’s going to be my last time seeing her.”
Hixson Middle School student Nina Schroeder echoed those concerns. Although the 13-year-old said she feels fortunate to be able to go to a school that has strong security measures in place, she knows there are many students who aren’t as lucky.
“I feel scared for people who don’t have the luxuries that I do,” said Schroeder, who marched with her 11-year-old sister.
Some student demonstrators had specific ideas for policy changes they would like to see enacted in Congress, including Washington University senior Justin Coskey.
“It’s absolutely senseless what’s going on, both in terms of the shootings and the lack of action in government,” said Coskey, who is a member of the student-run Roosevelt Institute. "I think there are a lot of potential solutions, including closing loopholes for gun shows, ensuring universal background checks and ensuring that criminals have no access to firearms.”
Much of the conversation surrounding the March for Our Lives event has focused on the need for legislative change that directly addresses gun violence in schools.
Washington University sophomore Vinith Ilavarsan said that a solution must come from Congress.
“I think if we can get some turnover in Congress with people who understand the importance of comprehensive gun legislation, that would be something we could tangibly look towards,” Ilavarsan said. “Hopefully with the midterm elections coming up, there can be a little shake-up.”
Volunteers from HeadCount, a nonpartisan organization, stood at the fringes of the march and helped demonstrators register to vote.
The March for Our Lives event comes on the heels of a national school walkout held earlier this month.
Student activists have planned a second school walkout for April 20, the 19th anniversary of the Columbine school shooting in Colorado.
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