Gun control rallies are taking place across the US today

Thousands of protesters are expected to gather in Washington, DC, on Saturday and in separate rallies across the country as part of a renewed push for gun control across the country. Motivated by a new surge in mass shootings, from Uvalde, Texas, to Buffalo, New York, protesters say lawmakers must take note of shifts in public opinion and finally enact sweeping reforms.

Organizers hope the second March for Our Lives rally will draw some 50,000 protesters to the Washington Monument. That’s far less than the original 2018 march, which packed downtown Washington with more than 200,000 people. This time, organizers are focusing on holding smaller marches in about 300 locations.

“We want to make sure this work is carried out across the country,” said Daud Moomin, co-chair of the march’s board of directors and a recent graduate of Westminster College in Salt Lake City. “This job is not just about DC, it’s not just about the senators.”

According to the March for Our Lives website, a rally is planned in Toronto, near the US Consulate on University Ave.

Former congresswoman and gun violence survivor Gabby Giffords is pictured at a gun control rally in Washington, DC on November 3, 2021, with Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student and March for Our Lives board member , David Hogg. (Jose Luis Magana/The Associated Press)

The first march was prompted by the February 14, 2018, killings of 14 students and three staff members at the hands of a former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. That massacre sparked the creation of the youth-led March For Our Lives. movement, which successfully pressured the Republican-dominated Florida state government to enact sweeping gun control reforms.

Parkland students then took aim at gun laws in other states and nationally, launching the March for Our Lives and holding the big rally in Washington on March 24, 2018.

The group did not match Florida’s results nationally, but has persisted in advocating for gun restrictions ever since, as well as participating in voter registration drives.

He hopes recent tragedies may prompt changes in the law

With another spate of mass shootings bringing gun control back into the national conversation, organizers of this weekend’s events say the time is right to renew their push for national reform.

“Right now we’re angry,” said Mariah Cooley, a March For Our Lives board member and a senior at Howard University in Washington. “This will be a demonstration to show that we as Americans are not going to stop any time soon until Congress does its job. And if not, we will kick them out.”

CLOCK | Miah Cerrillo’s testimony takes over the congressional hearing:

Texas School Shooting Survivor Presents Graphic Evidence Before Committee

This video contains content that some viewers may find distressing. Miah Cerrillo, a fourth-grade student who survived the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, described how she avoided the gunman as he killed her classmates.

The protest comes at a time of renewed political activity on guns and a crucial moment for possible action in Congress.

Survivors of mass shootings and other incidents of gun violence lobbied lawmakers and testified on Capitol Hill this week. Among them was Miah Cerrillo, an 11-year-old girl who survived the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. She told lawmakers how she covered herself in the blood of a dead classmate to avoid being shot.

On Tuesday, actor Matthew McConaughey appeared in the White House briefing room to push for gun legislation and made very personal comments about the violence in his hometown of Uvalde.

CLOCK | McConaughey advocates bipartisan action:

Matthew McConaughey makes an emotional plea for gun control reform

Oscar-winning actor Matthew McConaughey made an emotional call for gun control reform in the United States during a speech at the White House. Uvalde, Texas, the site of a recent deadly elementary school shooting, is the actor’s hometown.

The House passed bills that would raise the age limit for purchasing semi-automatic weapons and establish federal “red flag” laws. But such initiatives have traditionally stalled or been greatly watered down in the Senate. Democratic and Republican senators had hoped to reach an agreement this week on a framework to address the issue and spoke on Friday, but had not announced a deal by early afternoon.

Moomin referred to the Senate as “where substantive action goes to die” and said the new march is intended to send a message to lawmakers that public opinion on gun control is changing under their feet.

“If they are not on our side, there will be consequences: voting them out of office and making their lives hell when they are in office,” he said.

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