Hundreds rally at state capitols nationwide five years after the historic March For Our Lives following the shooting in Parkland in 2018
Location — Five years ago, in the wake of the tragic school shooting in Parkland in 2018, millions of young people walked out into the streets to demand gun safety legislation.
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.
Five years since the first March For Our Lives in 2018 following the tragic school shooting in Parkland, our youth-led movement has achieved the unimaginable. We’ve passed more than 250 gun laws at the state level. We’ve also passed the single most important piece of federal gun legislation in 30 years – the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act – and proved that breaking through partisan gridlock in Congress on gun safety legislation is possible.
Our generation – the lockdown generation – has become a political force. Involvement in the march and gun safety activism moved young people to participate in elections, and have led to three consecutive election cycles of sky high youth voter turnout. In 2022, young people were the difference-maker in key states where gun safety majorities swept state legislatures and held the Senate. We’re winning elections up and down the ballot, like Gen-Z electeds Maxwell Frost and Nabeela Syed. And we’re starting to see the results.
But unfortunately, as this movement has grown, the gun violence epidemic has also grown. Gun violence is now the number one killer of children in our country for the second year in a row. The fear of gun violence continues to rule the lives of young people.
So, we will continue to fight for our lives and demand change. This week, to mark the fifth anniversary of our first historic march, we are hosting major rallies in state capitols across the nation to fight for five packages of legislation that will ban assault weapons, close background check loopholes, require safe storage of firearms, and other measures that will save lives and drastically reduce the number of children and young people who are shot and killed each year. The rallies – in Lansing, MI; Harrisburg, PA; Tallahassee, FL; Sacramento, CA; and Austin, TX – are bringing together young people, parents, teachers, nurses, care providers, and everyone who cares about young people to demand action.
We are going to keep voting, not for letters next to a politician’s name but for leaders who are actually committed to real, tangible change in our lives. We’re going to keep running for office. We’re going to keep marching, like we did when we organized the March For Our Lives five years ago, because it’s working. We’ve reached a tipping point in our politics because of young people, and any politician that wants to win anytime in the next generation would be wise to listen to us.
“Our generation is tired of waiting for change,” said David Hogg, March For Our Lives Co-Founder & Parkland Survivor. “Our crisis isn’t that we lack solutions, it’s that our politicians lack backbones. But we’re reached a tipping point in our politics because of young people who are voting, marching, organizing and running for office. The last three federal elections were decided by young voters. And we are not backing down. My message to politicians today is clear: show us that you care about our lives, or we will vote you out.”
“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.”
“America, your children are dying, and the ones who live will never be the same,” said Joseph Kesto, Michigan State University survivor and Board Member of MFOL MSU. “Our classrooms are warzones, and it isn’t fair. School shootings aren’t natural or normal, so why is it taking so long to enact change? Why are we acting like this is our new normal? Nothing about this is normal.”
“Gun violence is the number one cause of death for children in the United States, and current Pennsylvania State Legislation does not protect its youth from that horrifying reality,” said Madeline Barbezat, an organizer with March for Our Lives in Pennsylvania. “After 5 years, March For Our Lives is rallying again so that the youth of this Commonwealth don’t have to live in fear of gun violence in their communities and in their own homes. We have the power to take office from those who are willing to sit by and watch while we live in fear. We have the power to vote out those who refuse to do their jobs and protect the citizens of this Commonwealth.”
“From our local chapter projects to state and national campaigns like these, we believe it is critical to empower the younger generations to get involved in social justice work as early as possible,” said Christopher Kwok, Co-Lead of the MFOL Sequoia Union chapter in California. “Although this rally is coming to a close, the fight against gun violence does not stop here. It is the actions we take after this event such as educating your community and engaging with grassroots initiatives like MFOL that we want to urge.”
Let us be clear: Young people refuse to die waiting for change. We will continue to fight for our lives. And we intend to win.