Thousands of gun control advocates are expected to rally across the country on Saturday in nationwide March for Our Lives protests to demand action on gun laws after the recent batch of deadly mass shootings.
Up to 50,000 protesters are expected in Washington D.C. alone to participate in a march against gun violence, according to a permit from the National Park Service. Several hundred other marches are planned across the country, including in New York City, Las Vegas, and Chicago.
It marks the latest widespread move by March for Our Lives, which was founded by teens after the mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Fla. in 2018, which killed 17 people. That year, the group rallied more than 1 million people in the nation’s capital and hosted sister rallies around the country and world, ramping up public pressure to change gun laws that — four years later — have largely still not been addressed.
Who are the speakers in D.C.?
On Saturday, protesters are expected to meet at the Washington Monument in D.C at noon for the demonstration, which will include speeches, videos, and musical performances.
Speakers are set to include co-founders David Hogg, X Gonzalez, Democratic Rep. Cori Bush, National Education Association president Becky Pringle, gun violence survivor RuQuan Brown and more. Yolanda Renee King, Martin Luther King Jr.’s granddaughter, will return as a speaker. She spoke at the 2018 demonstration when she was nine years old, one of the most memorable speeches from the event.
The group garnered national attention after their rise in 2018 and continue to push for stricter gun laws, which they say would prevent the continued scourge of mass shootings across the country.
The group was formed about a month after the Feb. 14, 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. Its massive march in Washington that year became the largest single day protest against gun violence in U.S. history.
Daud Mumin, executive co-chairman of the Board of Directors at March for Our Lives, said it is disappointing to see mass shootings continue, but the group won’t stop its work in fighting for change.
“Four years later and over 170,000 lives later, we’re marching again and we’re disappointed,” he said. “We’re angry, we’re raging, we’re mad and we want people across the country to be mad with us. We want people to join us in saying that enough has always been enough.”
More mass shootings than days so far this year
The latest March for Our Lives demonstration comes after a tragic batch of mass shootings over the last several weeks. The uproar over the increased violence reached a tipping point after the attack at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, which left 19 students and two teachers dead on May 24.
“After countless mass shootings and instances of gun violence in our communities, it’s time to take back to the streets and march for our lives,” the organization wrote on its webpage.
The organization advocates for solutions it says could help end gun violence such as raising requirements for gun ownership, investing in the safety of communities, holding the gun industry accountable and demanding action from federal level.
So far this year, 251 mass shootings have happened, according to the Gun Violence Archive, a non-profit that tracks gun violence. That’s more than the 161 number of days there have been this year.
The Texas school shooting, along with recent attacks targeting a grocery store in New York, church in California and medical facility in Oklahoma brought the issue of gun violence to the forefront of national discourse once again. But changes to gun laws remain uncertain.
On Wednesday, the Democratic-controlled House passed an expansive gun control bill, aiming to raise the age to purchase semi-automatic rifles to 21. The bill faces an uphill path in the evenly split Senate.
‘We’re going to keep fighting’
As a Parkland shooting survivor, co-founder and board member for March for Our Lives, Hogg is all too familiar with gun violence and the harm caused by a mass shooting.
However, Hogg penned on Twitter “this time will be different” as the organization receives national support and has started to see efforts among companies and even some Republicans in demanding change in gun violence.
Along with Hogg, Brown will deliver a speech at Saturday’s protest in Washington, an event that will hit close to home as it was a city where he was touched by gun violence.
The 20-year-old has devoted himself to fighting for gun violence prevention after his stepfather and a football teammate were killed in two separate shootings while he was in high school in D.C.
“Both of those things really pushed me to begin to advocate for my safety and the safety of my community,” Brown said. “I’m coming to this March to speak to all people on behalf of black people who are impacted by gun violence every single day.”
Although the protest is just one day, Mumin emphasized their work will not end there.
“This work does not stop after June 11. We’re going to keep fighting,” Mumin said. “We’re going to keep marching. We’re going to keep mobilizing for a very serious, but simple, message that it is time to take action.”