Thousands of students, led by the survivors of the deadly shooting at a high school in February, took part in protest marches across the United States on Saturday, demanding stronger action against gun violence.
Seventeen students died after a former student of the school in Florida’s Parkland opened fire at the campus on February 14.
The main March for Our Lives rally was in Washington, where protesters demanded protection from gun violence, including a ban on assault weapons such as the rifle used in the Parkland shooting, a ban on high-capacity magazines, and effective background checks, Bloomberg reported. With more than 800 marches, the demonstration in Washington was reportedly the largest.
In New York, protestors walked toward Central Park, and in Parkland, they chanted “Enough is enough”, The New York Times reported. In Salt Lake City, the protestors demonstrated with pistols and signs that read: “What can we do to stop mass shootings? SHOOT BACK.”
Emma Gonzalez, the Parkland student whose speech after the shooting had inspired thousands of people, led the protestors in Washington. They observed silence for around six minutes – the time it took the gunman, Nikolas Cruz, to shoot and kill 17 students, The Guardian reported.
In a statement issued on Saturday, the White House said, “We applaud the many courageous young Americans exercising their First Amendment rights today.” A day earlier, however, though the Justice Department proposed banning “bump stocks”, President Donald Trump signed a spending bill that only included a few background checks and school safety measures, according to The New York Times. A bump stock is a device that, when attached to a gun, allows the shooter to fire hundreds of rounds per minute.
Former US President Barack Obama was among several people to tweet in support of the protests. “Nothing can stand in the way of millions of voices calling for change,” he said.