Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, including Emma Gonzalez (center), stood together on stage with other young victims of gun violence at the March for Our Lives rally in Washington, D.C.
On March 24, 2018, students led marches all over the United States and the world against gun violence. Estimates show that more than 2 million people participated in the U.S. events. This protest, called “March for Our Lives,” was organized by student activists as a response to the February 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Seventeen people were killed in that shooting.
The largest March for Our Lives event was held in Washington, D.C. Organizers estimated that 800,000 attended it. This made it one of the largest single day protests in United States history. Many of the student activists that spoke to the crowd in Washington, D.C., were survivors of the Parkland shooting. Speakers called for stronger gun laws. They want people to vote in the midterm elections for leaders that will make these laws a priority.
One of the youngest speakers was an 11-year-old girl from Virginia, named Naomi Wadler. She spoke for African American women and girls who have often been ignored victims of gun violence. Wadler led a walkout at her elementary school on March 14 as part of the National School Walkout Day. The walkout at Wadler’s school lasted 18 minutes. This was one minute longer than most schools had planned. Her school added a minute for Courtlin Arrington. Arrington was an African American girl who was killed in a school shooting in Alabama after the Parkland shooting. Wadler and others wanted to point out that Arrington’s death did not receive the same attention in the news.
Students from across the nation traveled to Washington, D.C., for the main March for Our Lives event. But there were rallies and marches held in many other parts of the country, too. The more than 800 events varied from small gatherings to huge rallies. Parkland, Florida, had one of the largest events outside of Washington, D.C. Large cities like Atlanta, Boston, Los Angeles, New York, and Philadelphia had marches and rallies with tens of thousands in attendance. Smaller towns had smaller gatherings. For example, about 30 people gathered in Houlton, Maine, near the Canadian border. International events were held in France, Australia, and Germany.
In addition to many of the speakers and organizers being students, a large number of the marchers were children. Some made signs to show how important gun violence prevention is to them. Even though many of the marchers are not old enough to vote, they participated in our country’s democracy through the March for Our Lives.
In some communities, counter protests were held. These gun rights advocates wanted to share how important the Second Amendment is to them. They are concerned that implementing laws to prevent gun violence might limit their right to bear arms.
Student organizers held Town Hall events on April 7. The organizers invited members of Congress to attend the Town Halls to listen to concerns about gun violence and proposals to create safer schools and communities.