Photo courtesy of Emmy Paulson

BC Students Join the March For Our Lives

Students in Boston and across the United States participated in March for Our Lives demonstrations on Saturday to demand reform in response to recent shootings at schools and other community spaces.  

The demonstrations were organized following a school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. 17 students and staff were shot and killed on Feb. 14 of this year. This tragic event fueled an outpouring of support on social media and heated discussions on American gun laws.

Many students decided there was not enough response and organized rallies to express the senselessness of gun violence in America.

According to the mission statement of the March For Our Lives, the purpose of the marches and rallies this weekend were “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,” the statement continued.

Parkland students initiated the March For Our Lives movement to demand gun-control legislation and an end to school shootings.

Photo courtesy of Emmy Paulson

According to Parkland survivor and youth activist Emma González, she and her classmates decided to get involved in the gun control debate “because it’s about damn time someone did.”

Key figures have commended these teenagers on their spirit, focus, and vital message, including former President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama.

Students have argued that this event should not be only a legislative turning point, but a social and moral one as well. Communities across America have experienced gun violence time and time again. However, each incident has sparked no strong legislative response from lawmakers or politicians.

Students have heard these silenced voices and decided to march to reject the uniquely American epidemic of school shootings. Activists started to gather at 10 a.m. in Madison Park Technical Vocational High School and began marching toward the Boston Common at 11 a.m. to demonstrate their stance on the need to change gun policy.

At Boston College, Young Democratic Socialists of Boston College and College Democrats of Boston College helped to organize, inform, and shuttle BC students to the starting location of the march. 

Thousands of students flooded the streets of Boston with banners, signs, and posters expressing their message. A traveling band and DJ joined the marchers. As they rallied, students had the opportunity to share their ideas through megaphones. Everyone was chanting and holding hands–a show of unity and resilience within the Boston community.

Photo courtesy of Emmy Paulson

Chants of “hey, hey, ho, ho, the NRA has got to go” could be heard throughout Boston Common.

Max Houghton, MCAS ‘20 and Communications Director of College Democrats of Boston College, commented that this event was “a really good opportunity to showcase the power of our collective presence to show Boston and the country at large that we stand united on this issue.”

Houghton also said BC students felt “strongly about the lives that had been lost and the need to commemorate them.”

Another BC student, Rachel Hoyle, MCAS ‘20, said that she was sick of the “inevitability of more mass shootings.”

“It isn’t a question of whether or not there will be more school shootings, but when and where,” she said.

Hoyle hopes that by making their presence known, “students can help to convince their representatives to actually take action.”

She also noted “organizers spoke a lot about the way white privilege has brought attention to gun control reform now, when it has been an issue in mostly non-white communities for decades.”

Unfortunately, not every student felt safe in attending the rally. One BC student informed The Gavel that she decided not to go out of concern about counter protests organized by groups that advocate for the Second Amendment. Additionally, she was fearful that some people would “show up with their guns and other weapons.”

The current generation of high school and college students have grown up witnessing the effects of gun violence. Most recently, American students have witnessed 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting and last year’s Las Vegas festival shooting. They are determined to prevent similar events from happening again.

“It's easy for others to think that [the younger generation is] complacent, but we do have a collective bargaining power,” said Houghton. “We have a voice.”