Youth Activists Organized Rallies at State Capitols Nationwide to Mark Fifth Anniversary of Historic March For Our Lives Following 2018 School Shooting in Parkland, Florida
Tallahassee, FL – Yesterday, March For Our Lives marked its fifth anniversary with a major rally at the Florida State Capitol in Tallahassee. Speakers included MFOL Co-Founder and Board Member David Hogg, Florida State Rep. Anna Eskamani, AFT Secretary-Treasurer Fed Ingram, and National Education Association President Becky Pringle.
Lawmakers, youth activists, survivors, and families of gun violence victims came together to fight against a concealed carry bill that removes permitting requirements to carry concealed firearms practically anywhere. This is part of a dangerous trend toward removing permit requirements in the last few years and is a clear step back after our hard-fought wins following the Parkland shooting. So once again, young people rallied to fight back against this bill and demanded action from the Florida legislature.
In the wake of the 2018 school shooting in Parkland, young people turned their grief into action and birthed a movement that achieved the unimaginable, successfully passing 250+ gun laws including the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act – the single most important piece of federal gun legislation in 30 years. Even Florida’s Republican legislature and Republican Governor did what everyone said was impossible: they passed and signed a package of gun safety laws. They weren’t perfect, but they were a big step forward for Florida.
Now, Governor DeSantis wants to take us back decades at a time when young people are still dying needlessly looking down the barrel of a gun, with gun violence now the leading cause of death among children and young people.
“Five years ago, terrorized by the routine of watching the nation jolt from one mass shooting to another, and sickened by our leaders’ inaction, young people were moved to turn their grief and fear into action and marched in the largest youth-led protest in history,” said David Hogg, March For Our Lives Co-Founder and Parkland Survivor. “In the years since, our generation – the lockdown generation – has become a political force. Young people have helped pass over 250 gun laws, won historic elections, and are voting at historic levels. March For Our Lives is stronger than ever, and we will continue to fight for change until young people no longer live in fear of being shot.”
“Our schools are supposed to be safe and joyful places, spaces where students – no matter their race, background or ZIP code – can grow into their full brilliance,” said Becky Pringle, President of the National Education Association. “Our schools should be where educators create lesson plans, not plans for evacuation. Since the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida in 2018, states have passed 250 gun control laws and President Joe Biden signed into law the first federal gun legislation in 30 years, making our communities safer in response to our hard work and advocacy. But last year alone, there were 51 school shootings that resulted in injuries or deaths, including at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas, where 19 of our babies and two adults lost their lives. That is why we will continue marching until every student, every school, and every community is safe from gun violence. We will not just be angry. We will organize. We will not just be angry. We will unite. We will not just be angry. We will channel that anger into action.”
“It’s sad when America leads the developed world in gun deaths and sees the leading cause of death for its children is guns. What’s worse is that extremist politicians like Ron DeSantis and his ilk are more capable of registering drag queens than assault rifles. They are more motivated to ban books than high-capacity magazines,” said Fedrick Ingram, Secretary-Treasurer at the American Federation of Teachers. “The time for change has come and the AFT marches alongside the next generation of leaders that I truly believe will finally bring about real, common sense gun reform in this country.”
“It has been a long five years,” said Olivia Solomon, March For Our Lives Advocacy Organizer for Florida. “We’ve had some wins and we take that and keep fighting. We keep fighting because we have to. We keep fighting because every single day over 100 Americans die from gun violence. We keep fighting because gun violence is the number one cause of death for kids, teens, and young adults in America. But we will not allow this to become our legacy.”
The Tallahassee rally is just one of many being held this week to mark the fifth anniversary of the first March For Our Lives in 2018. These rallies are sending a simple message: Young people refuse to die waiting for change. We will continue to fight for our lives. And we intend to win.