Writing these kinds of posts makes me frustrated. Nobody wants to have to write about these events, because they should not be happening. As someone in the UK who has worked across quite a bit of The United States (and counts many Americans as close friends) I have spent years feeling frustrated and upset over the state of gun control in the US. It’s incredibly difficult to understand, as I’ve lived nearly my entire life with strict gun regulations in my country. The Dunblane massacre (which killed seventeen people, just like Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Florida) occurred just after my third birthday, and in its wake all handguns were banned, followed shortly after by the ban of .22 caliber guns as well. After Dunblane a gun amnesty was called and more than 162,000 handguns were surrendered. Since then, nearly 22 years later, the UK has had one mass shooting.
I’ve never known a life in which I have had to fear mine in a way that American kids do. I’ve never had to face the kind of corrupt corporate lobbying and empty rhetoric that follows every time something like this happens in America. For those of us in the rest of the world, we just sit and watch baffled, stunned, heartbroken. Helpless, time and time again. I can’t even imagine what it must feel like to be a young US citizen.
But this time, things could be different, and you don’t need to be in America to play your part.
This time, the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Florida are taking things into their own hands. After the deaths of seventeen people at the hands of a teenager who was armed with a legally purchased AR-15 rifle, students are saying that enough is enough. These students are organised, and they will not be silenced.
‘We can’t ignore the issues of gun control that this tragedy raises. And so, I’m asking — no, demanding — we take action now’ (source)
In the wake of the shooting they have organised a movement, March For Our Lives, demanding for leaders and US politicians to do better. Here’s what you need to know:
What is March For Our Lives?
March for Our Lives is a mass protest taking place on March 24, 2018, demanding that the lives and safety of young people becomes a priority, that gun violence and mass shootings in school is brought to an end.
Where is it?
March For Our Lives has a central march in Washington, D.C., but there are multiple marches happeneing across the world. You can find a list of satellite marches across America here, and an even longer list on the official facebook group. The London March will be happening at midday.
Also, please note that this is a bipartisan protest:
‘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.’
If you can’t attend March For Our Lives there are also other protests planned:
- The Women’s March’s is planning a US wide national school walkout on March 14, 2018. At 10 a.m. in every time zone, organisers are encouraging teachers, students, administrators, parents and allies to walk out for 17 minutes — one for every person killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
- On April 20th, the 19th anniversary of the Columbine shooting, there will be a #NationalSchoolWalkout starting at 10am and ending at the end of the school day. You can follow the movement on Twitter to find a walkout near you.
What Else You Can Do
If you can’t march or protest, there are other things you can do too:
- If you’re an American citizen, register to vote, and vote for politicians who are pro gun control.
- Donate to the March For Our Lives campaign here.
- Contact your local representatives and congress members and demand they refuse to take money from the NRA. Gun control is a popular policy, more hasn’t been done because of the amount of money the NRA gives to politicians. You can find the largest donation recipients here, flood their inboxes and phone switchboards.
- Boycott companies with connections to the NRA. You don’t need to be in America to do this, one of the largest companies with ties to the NRA is Amazon (which streams NRA TV). Boycott companies with NRA ties, and let them know that’s why you’re doing it. I’m normally not too angry on this platform, but I believe the NRA is an odious organisation, and the fact that is describes itself as a ‘civil rights organisation’ is abhorrent, the sooner we pull the corporate ties from under their feet the better. Here’s a list of companies to boycott, as well as those that have now severed ties with the NRA. For the latter, consider using their services and letting them know that you’re using them because they have cut ties with the NRA.
- Take your money out of banks funding the creation of weapons. Five of the largest gun manufacturers are supported by over a dozen banks through varying types of credit arrangements. You can find the list of banks to close your accounts with here (make sure to tell them exactly why you’re switching) and more information on ethical banking options here. For anyone interested, I personally use the building society Nationwide. Always have, always will.
- Sign the National School Walk Out petition here.
- You can follow the movement on social media and spread the word with the hashtag #NEVERAGAIN
I feel so incredibly tired of this, so I can’t begin to imagine how US citizens feel. Here’s to demanding better.