March For Our Lives

The March For Our Lives on March 24 in Washington D.C. against gun violence has raised many additional issues such as race relations, gender norms, campaign financing and mental illness.

On a mild sunny Saturday, I walked to a typically sleepy, suburban metro station to board a train into D.C. Upon arriving, I noticed crowds of mostly teens gathered with signs milling around together as they waited for each in their groups to purchase transit fares.

Normally at this time of year, Washington D.C. draws crowds to admire its profusion of cherry blossoms. Today, citizens were gathering for a different reason. They wanted to voice their opposition to the rash of school shootings that occur across the country all too frequently.

I would say that the touchstone was February 14, 2018, school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, but there have been so many school shootings on such a frequent basis and so many other questions involved in the issue of gun violence that these protests seem to be a long time in coming.

The March For Our Lives on March 24, 2018, follows in the wake of other protest movements but it connects to many of them and the issues that they have raised. Signs among the protesters questioned race relations, gender norms, campaign financing and many other subject areas.

“Why do kids only matter when they are in my uterus?” One sign questioned readers. Another sign asked attendees to care about black lives lost to gun violence as much as mass shootings. What was different about this was the sheer amount of kids of all ages who were attending. Parents pushed prams with tiny toddlers holding signs saying “#Enough”.

The March For Our Lives and the next generation of voters

Large groups of teenagers walked with signs carrying statistics and expressing their fears. Other signs pointed out that those attending represented a future generation that is coming of age and will become tomorrow’s voters.

The certainty in this situation is that America is in transition and that there is a large cultural divide in the country. The Republicans control a tremendous swathe of the political institutions in the US right now. The reason for that is undoubtedly because of a philosophical battle that is already underway about where the United States is going. With the way that things are right now, protesting is one of the main ways by which ordinary people who feel impotent in the current political climate can assert themselves. As a result, we are seeing so many marches.

One of the protestors held a sign stating that mental illness is a global matter, but mass shootings are American. I overheard the other protester say, “It’s not a mental illness, it’s rage.” Rage is certainly what was palpable on the streets around Pennsylvania Avenue today. Music, speeches, chanting and multimedia presentations loudly boomed with throbbing crowds directed into the vicinity of the White House and the Trump Hotel.

“No more! No more! No more!” The voices echoed around the building among the rising clouds of smoke. Will March for Our Lives be the start of a change in attitudes around gun violence?

Read also: Elephant In The Room: America’s Violent Culture

Read also: Why Not Close The Gun Shows Loophole?

Krista Westerlund

Krista Westerlund is an independent thinker. She holds a Master's Degree in European Politics from LSE.