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On March 24th I attended Redding’s March For Our Lives event, a response to the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida on February 14 in which 17 students and faculty lost their lives and 17 others were wounded. It’s sobering to realize the leaders of this movement were ordinary high schoolers just six weeks ago (SIX!), worried about grades and prom and driver’s licenses. Now they’re on the cover of Time Magazine, mobilizing their generation to vote and fight for change. Only a fool would ignore the strength of their argument and commitment.
The speakers at this event were all local high school students, the youngest under age 16. Their eloquence and passion and anger were startling and I was brought to tears by their words many times. It was a sight to behold and I’m honored to have been there to see it for myself. I felt like I was witnessing the start of something very profound, and it gives me hope that perhaps change really is coming. I’m ashamed my generation didn’t do it for them.
The rally was well-attended, with hundreds of people present, and the crowd was spirited, energized and vocal in their calls to end the gun violence in this country. I only saw one counter-protestor (there may have been others), holding up a sign that said “PRO NRA” on one side and “#2A” on the other. During a lull in the speeches, someone in the back shouted about gun rights but a number of people standing nearby turned to that person and there were no more disruptions. The rain threatened to dump on us at any moment, but the weather held and we stayed dry the entire time.
As people marched from the Sundial Bridge to the Mt. Shasta Mall, the crowd stretched from Hilltop Drive all the way back across the length of the Highway 44 bridge. Many cars honked at the crowd, receiving raucous cheers in return, but I noticed a few extended middle fingers mixed in with the supportive waving. One fine citizen threw a plastic bottle from a passing car, which thankfully didn’t hit anyone.
More than 800 events were held all over the country and around the world, showing that people are tired of the deaths and the fear and the pain. The gun lobby may own our politicians but they don’t own our voices or our votes. Come November, I think things are going to be very different, with waves of brand-new voters ready to bring the change we couldn’t give them. I certainly pray for a brighter future for this generation.
I do not wish to debate the merits of gun control laws in the United States because the truth is that I’m a Leftie very much in favor of strict laws against gun ownership as well as an outright ban of all AR-15 rifles. In my opinion those weapons have no business being in the hands of the public. As you might imagine, I’m also anti-NRA, another provocative point I’m not going to argue. A News Cafe is open to submissions of diverse viewpoints and you are free to submit an opinion piece of your own.