Anti-gun protests in the United States: “We only aspire to survive high school” | International

Hundreds of people protest at the march called in New York this Saturday.
Hundreds of people protest at the march called in New York this Saturday.JEENAH MOON (REUTERS)

March for Our Lives, the gun control group created in the wake of a 2018 Florida high school shooting, has organized 450 protests across the country this weekend, including cities like Washington, New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. . Although the weather forecasts have partially clouded the call, with thousands of participants in the one in Washington, the group’s call gathers the support of the majority of US public opinion for toughening the legislation on weapons, but above all the consternation for the recent events, just a couple of examples in the incessant daily bleeding.

Fred Guttenberg lost his daughter Jaime, a 14-year-old girl who liked to dance, in the Parkland, Florida, shooting on Valentine’s Day 2018 in which 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz killed 17 high school students. your institute. A student movement arose from the tragedy, which the following month brought together 200,000 people in Washington under the slogan march for our lives. The shock wave of their protest reverberates again in the face of the latest mass shootings in places like an elementary school in Uvalde (Texas, 19 dead children and two teachers), on May 26, and a supermarket in Buffalo (New York, 10 African-Americans murdered), just 12 days earlier.

Guttenberg did not want to miss this new call, despite the fact that the morning dawned gray and rainy. This time, he says, he is hopeful that the politicians will do something. “The House of Representatives has voted this week on a law with support from both parties for gun control and around three ideas: laws of Red flag, background check of buyers and a review of the legal age to acquire weapons. We only need 10 senators in favor, and I think we are close, ”he explained to the crowd concentrated at the foot of the Washington Monument. “Those changes will not be enough, but at least a starting point. We will clear up any doubts between this week and the next”.

Protesters in support of gun control in the US, at this Saturday's march on Washington.
Protesters in support of gun control in the US, at this Saturday’s march on Washington.Gemunu Amarasinghe (AP)

The highlight of this Saturday’s protest in Washington was a rally in which activists, relatives of victims of the Buffalo shooting, survivors of massacres in schools and institutes and Cori Bush, Democratic congressman for the State, spoke starting at noon. from Missouri. The one in New York was attended by the mayor, Eric Adams, and the state attorney general, Letitia James, among other authorities. The protesters carried banners with clever messages: “Let’s make supermarkets safe places,” one could read. “11 year olds should be playing outside, not playing dead to save their lives,” read another. “We just aspire to survive high school,” said a third.

Among those attending the protest in Washington, mostly young and almost all dressed in blue t-shirts distributed by the organization, there were people from far away places like Newtown (Connecticut), a place name that entered the history of the infamy of the United States in 2012, with the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. In it, Jake Schummer, then eight years old, lost two friends, Noah Ponzer and Ben Wheeler, who were among the list of 20 children and six adults killed by 20-year-old Adam Lanza. “The memory of that tragedy is still very much alive in Newtown a decade later,” Schummer explained.

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Teachers were distinguished by their orange attire. Robin Gopin and Pete Lynch, educators at the largest school in Maryland, Montgomery Blair (Silver Springs), with 3,200 students, lamented that their students, between the ages of 9 and 12, were used to shooting drills “since third grade”. The last real one was at the beginning of this course, when they were locked up for hours due to a stabbing, without knowing what was really happening.

“It’s sad to see,” said Lynch, “how generations and generations of them start political activism to protest the defenselessness against weapons and that nothing happens.” When asked what they think of the measure proposed by the Republicans to arm teachers to stop violence in schools, Gopin answers bluntly: “If that happens, I will resign. It is extremely dangerous that they give us weapons, because there are very confusing situations in the normal life of a teacher, and I could not bear that responsibility”.

The March for Our Lives emerged from its apparent lethargy on May 14, when an 18-year-old white supremacist murdered a dozen people, mostly African Americans, in a Buffalo supermarket. With their activism, they brought out the colors of the political class for their inaction in the face of armed violence, which they described as a failure: “Our country should have done everything in its power much earlier to prevent weapons from falling into the wrong hands. Instead, the cult of guns in the US continues to fuel this white supremacist violence,” the group tweeted that bloody Saturday in Buffalo.

This Thursday, coinciding with a new shooting, this time in Maryland, the House of Representatives approved, with the Republican opposition voting against, a bill of Red flag, such as the one theoretically in force in the State of New York, which allows legally purchased weapons to be confiscated from those who represent a danger to others or to themselves; increase the background check of those who aspire to buy a weapon and raise the legal age for it. Republicans have repeatedly prevented any limits on gun ownership in the Senate, and this is expected to happen with the text approved on Thursday.

This Saturday’s call had the express support of President Joe Biden, a Democrat who earlier this month urged Congress to ban assault weapons ―such as those used by the Buffalo and Uvalde killers―, increase background checks criminal and psychiatric of buyers and implement other measures that make access more difficult. In a message on the social network Twitter, Biden stressed that the majority of Americans want “common sense” legislative measures. “Congress should ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines; toughen background checks and end gun manufacturers’ immunity from prosecution,” Biden tweeted.

It should be remembered that the perpetrators of the massacres in Búfalo and Uvalde legally bought the weapons with which they carried out their attacks and that the first of them had undergone a psychiatric evaluation a year before the event for making serious threats, but his record did not appear when he acquired the weapon. The State of New York, which already had very restrictive laws, approved a bill last week to raise the legal age for the purchase of a semi-automatic weapon, much more lethal due to the number of bursts it can fire per minute. Added to the ease of purchase is a worrying trend, corroborated by recent events: the growing youth of the assailants.

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