After the recent and troubling events in Parkland, Florida, the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School reacted in the only way they saw fit: they turned anger and grief into a movement for change. Instead of waiting for politicians and government institutions to react, the students have taken matters into their own hands by organizing "March For Our Lives."
What is March For Our Lives?
According to the website of the movement, March For Our Lives is, "created by, inspired by, and led by students across the country who will no longer risk their lives waiting for someone else to take action to stop the epidemic of mass school shootings that has become all too familiar. In the tragic wake of the seventeen lives brutally cut short in Florida, politicians are telling us that now is not the time to talk about guns. March For Our Lives believes the time is now."
Is March For Our Lives purely political?
No. While gun control issues tend to fall within party lines, the founders of the movement are trying to stay away from divisive political discourse. Instead, they want the focus to be on the safety of our children - and the future generations of American citizens. "School safety is not a political issue. There cannot be two sides to doing everything in our power to ensure the lives and futures of children who are at risk of dying when they should be learning, playing, and growing. The mission and focus of March For Our Lives is to demand that a comprehensive and effective bill be immediately brought before Congress to address these gun issues. No special interest group, no political agenda is more critical than timely passage of legislation to effectively address the gun violence issues that are rampant in our country."
How can I get involved?
There are plenty of ways to get involved with this movement, from donations to participation.
1. Go to the March For Our Lives rally in Washington D.C.
The march is planned for March 24, 2018. Students, children and parents will take to the streets to protest gun violence in America. If you're interested in joining in, click on this link to sign up for the event.
2. Can't get to D.C.? Find an event near you!
An exciting aspect of this movement is how widespread it has become in such a short time. Similar to the Women's March in 2017, there are many local marches and rallies you can attend as well. Check out this link if you're interested in finding a local event.
3. No local events? Host your own!
The founders of the movement have created a "tool box" to assist aspiring activists in setting up, advertising and hosting a powerful local event. The tool box can be found here. Be sure, however, that there isn't already an event being planned in the same area. There is strength in numbers, and a divided movement won't be as powerful as a combined one.
4. Invest in some merchandise.
March For Our Lives in selling merchandise with their logo and other nifty things on them. Merchandise options include shirts and hoodies, and it looks like they have future plans for even more options. All the money raised will go towards funding the march, so this is a great way to be involved in D.C., even if you can't be physically present.
5. Give a donation.
If you can't participate in a march, but would still like to help fund the movement, then they are also accepting donations. "In just over a week, we have raised over $2.7 million and we’re just getting started with the change we want to see. We're especially proud of the fact that over 34,000 people have contributed through our GoFundMe, making an average donation of $80 dollars." The donations are not tax-deductible.
6. Follow the movement, students and updates on social media.
Another incredible aspect of this movement is the students' ability to engage with the world through the use of social media and other online tools. The founders and students have written articles, done a copious amount of interviews with the media and have been active on twitter. A couple of names to follow on Twitter:
Cameron Kasky @@
Emma González @@
Ryan Deitsch @@
Sarah Chadwick @@
Jaclyn Corin @@
David Hogg @@
And countless others. By exploring their feeds and pages you can learn more about the movement and the very active students behind it.
7. Support businesses (and others) who are assisting the movement.
Lyft just announced that they will be offering free rides to and from rallies and marches. Walmart and Dick's will no longer be selling guns to patrons under the age of 21, and Dick's will stop selling assault type weapons. Countless celebrities have donated huge sums to the march, including John Legend, Chrissy Teigen, and George Clooney.
8. Watch and share interviews with the students and adults working to make this march a reality.
Recently, The Ellen Show hosted three students (Emma González, Cameron Kasky and Jaclyn Corin) and interviewed them about the upcoming events. However, they've used the media spotlight to their advantage many times. Emma González gave a moving and passionate speech, where she "called BS" on the current functioning of gun legislation and governmental oversight in America. A group of students met with news anchors on Meet The Press. David Hogg and Emma González spoke again with CNN. The list goes on and on. You can find more by simply googling interviews. You'd be amazed at the wisdom many of these students have to share.
9. Sponsor or host a student in your home for the march.
The permit for the march estimates that almost 500,000 people will be in attendance in Washington D.C. alone. However, since many of those going to protest are underage, they may have trouble finding lodging in the traditional way (hotel, motel, etc.). Local students from Walter Johnson High School in Bethesda, Maryland think they may have found a solution; they're working to create a "home-sharing" network for those attending the march. It seems this project is in its infancy, but it could be another great way to get involved.
10. "Vote For Our Lives"
The only way governmental change will occur is if the people will it to through our democratic process. Vote, vote, vote! March For Our Lives even provides the resources to register to vote online. Midterms are coming up!
11. Sign the petition.
The March For Life has started a petition which also includes their outline for potential legislative changes in the future. These changes include, "passing a law to ban the sale of assault weapons, prohibiting the sale of high-capacity magazines and closing the loophole in our background check law that allows dangerous people who shouldn’t be allowed to purchase firearms to slip through the cracks and buy guns online or at gun shows." The full petition can be found here.
All citizens deserve to participate in their daily lives without fear of gun violence. No student should go to school and worry about the threat of an active shooter. We can change, America.