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Vote for our lives

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Victoria Williamson | The DePaulia

Victoria Williamson | The DePaulia

Victoria Williamson | The DePaulia

Noah Levitin, Contributing Writer

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I spent my spring break in Washington D.C. where I had the pleasure of attending the historic March for Our Lives rally as part of an organized interfaith trip put on by the Jewish United Fund and Metro-Chicago Hillel. At 8:30 p.m. on Friday, myself and 100 other college students embarked on a 15-hour bus ride to our nation’s capital. The bus let us out on the street adjacent to Pennsylvania Avenue, near the White House. It is estimated that over 800,000 people gathered in Washington to demonstrate against the NRA, to critique political apathy of the right, and to demand tighter restrictions on gun control. Hundreds of thousands of student activists took to the streets, and the majority of them were not old enough to vote or even to drive a car.

Due to the sheer amount of people, the march stagnated from a planned march down Pennsylvania Avenue into a rally. Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg were there; these students-turned-activists, along with several other students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, became the iconic faces of the movement almost overnight. They delivered their speeches with such poise, intelligence and determination. With tears streaming down their faces and fists thrown into the air, they demanded that the government take action on tightening gun control.

The culmination of the rally was when Gonzalez delivered her speech. Gonzalez was powerful, but it had nothing to do with her words per se. Her speech was only a few minutes long, with the majority of it a four-minute and 20 second-long moment of silence which signified the total amount of time it took for the shooter to kill all 12 students and two faculty members. Additional speeches came from survivors of the Sandy Hook, Columbine, and Pulse Nightclub shootings. Martin Luther King Jr.’s granddaughter stood hand-in-hand with the student body president of MSD and led the crowd in chant.

Victoria Williamson | The DePaulia

Although high school is years behind us, we as college students are not immune from gun violence ourselves. Recently the shooting at Central Michigan University turned into a double homicide. The shooting in Parkland is one out of 18 school shootings that have taken place across the United States since the new year. What separates us from these high school students is that we have reached voting age. Millennials are a politically charged demographic, and we have some of the loudest voices in the nation. But do we use them?

Only 3 percent of millennials turned out to vote in the Illinois primary elections, an embarrassing turnout.

We as college students who are of voting age need to lobby our members of Congress and use our voices as leverage. We currently have an administration that is apathetic to the issues of gun control. Several members of Congress have prioritized taking money from the NRA over tightening gun control in our country.

Being a college student in Chicago, I am not naïve to the fact that gun violence is an epidemic plaguing our city. Mya Middleton and Trevon Bosley are two students from Chicago who gave speeches at the rally to draw awareness on how gun violence is a constant issue in Chicago. Middleton spoke about her experience of being held up at gunpoint at a Jewel-Osco, and Bosley talked about his brother Terell who was shot and killed leaving a church service in 2006. Black and brown youth in Chicago make up the most significant amount of victims from gun-related deaths in the city. In 2017, there were over 600 hundred people killed by gunfire. Chicago goes through every day. An organization called Ujimaa Medics that trains Chicago Public School students on how to attend to gunshot victims was recently covered by Vice News, which raises the question: has gun violence in schools become normalized in this country?

This issue is not going to end unless we do something concrete. Since the Parkland shooting, numerous gun control bills have been proposed to the Senate, and all have failed. This is a bipartisan issue, yet our legislature cannot find common ground. Background checks for purchasing a firearm need to be expanded. We are now living in a time where our nation has become the most polarized and politically turbulent in our nation’s history. We will not stand for additional political apathy from the government, and we need to demand that our voices are heard.

When does enough finally become just that? Arming teachers is not going to solve this problem. More guns are not going to solve this problem. Our government is too embarrassed to admit that they have done something wrong. As we head into the midterm elections, millennials need to familiarize themselves with their district and state representatives. Casting one’s vote is, in fact, the biggest power of protest.

1 Comment

One Response to “Vote for our lives”

  1. fyi on April 20th, 2018 1:18 pm

    .In my opinion the kids at the columbine school in colorado created shooters. I have seen many shows about columbine and believe the shooters they created did so due to, No Repect. They were outcast is what i get out of most discusions on this. Had these students offered grettings instead of cold shoulders columbine would have never happened. The walk outs are lol and shows just how self centered and oblivious to reallity the students are. Where is the accountability on students. Ironic. They cant see what they started. Self control not gun control is what they need. Or a reminder that they go to school for an education. Not to find a click. The Media from national to local news that dont see how kids create shooters are in denial. And are being onesided . Put the blame where it belongs. Columbine students created shooters. They need to be told. And apologise to this country. Stricter gun laws will only lead to more gun theft. A school, a concert, a movie, where ever, these shooters are looking for sitting ducks and finding them. What will stop this is when a shooter runs into an angry crowd that fights back. When a shooter is being bombarded with everything not tied down and the mob closing in, and a beat down. That will change a lot of shooters minds on soft targets. New laws of any kind do not stop criminals from crime. Its what they do. Break the law.

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