DePaul students attend anti-gun rally in D.C.

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DePaul students attend anti-gun rally in D.C.

Fr. Michael Pfleger speaks at the anti-gun rally in Washington D.C. He is an activist for anti-gun violence and harsher policy.

Fr. Michael Pfleger speaks at the anti-gun rally in Washington D.C. He is an activist for anti-gun violence and harsher policy.

Courtesy of St. Sabina's Church

Fr. Michael Pfleger speaks at the anti-gun rally in Washington D.C. He is an activist for anti-gun violence and harsher policy.

Courtesy of St. Sabina's Church

Courtesy of St. Sabina's Church

Fr. Michael Pfleger speaks at the anti-gun rally in Washington D.C. He is an activist for anti-gun violence and harsher policy.

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An impromptu 12-hour bus ride isn’t generally considered an ideal weekend activity. But with the U.S. reaching 312 mass shootings in 2019 as of Sept. 29, according the the Gun Violence Archive, many considered this 12-hour bus ride a necessity.

Six hundred people, including 50 DePaul students, left on 12 buses this past Tuesday from Saint Sabina’s Church in Chicago to attend a gun violence rally in D.C. sponsored by over 50 organizations.

The group traveled under the guidance of Fr. Michael Pfleger, senior pastor of The Faith Community of Saint Sabina. In a press release sent out on Sept. 11, Saint Sabina announced that Americans from across the country would unite on the West Lawn of the Capitol to pressure Congress to pass gun safety bills, ban assault weapons, demand universal background checks and titling guns like cars. The rally also served as a way to commemorate the National Remembrance Day for Murdered Victims.

“I attended the rally because much of my education and outside work revolves around nonviolence and restorative justice,” said Catherine Ryan, a senior at DePaul and a site coordinator for the DePaul Community Service Association. She was also one of the 50 students who signed up to join the caravan from Chicago to D.C.

The students were told about the rally only a few days prior from staff members in the Division of Mission and Ministry, but were nevertheless eager to make arrangements so they could join the group.

“This all goes back to the question of, ‘What Must Be Done?” said Arlette Cortes, senior at DePaul who also attended the event. “Chicago experiences so much gun violence. It is in our own backyard and there will be little change if we don’t act on making that change.”

The rally started at 1 p.m. Wednesday, shortly after the first House Judiciary Committee hearing on “Protecting Americans from Assault Weapons.” The bill, also known as HR 1296, is going through its first stages of the legislative process. It’s the first time in 25 years that a bill is being introduced in Congress to ban assault weapons.

“I was in that hearing today and Republicans failed to show up,” said Fred Guttenberg, father of one of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting victims and founder of Orange Ribbons for Gun Safety. He was one of many people invited to share their story during the rally after the hearing.

Speakers, including Congressman John Lewis, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, rapper Common and Lauren Hogg from March for Our lives, echoed concerns regarding gun violence and demanded that Congress pass legislation on gun reform.

“We need gun reform now and we don’t plan on changing our message,” Pfleger said. “The urgency that fueled everyone to get on a 12-hour-long bus ride from Chicago to D.C., is the same urgency that our Congress leaders should have when it comes to gun reform.”

Pfleger has been one of many people on the forefront of fighting against gun violence in Chicago. He was one of the organizers, alongside Chicago Strong, who led a protest on the Dan Ryan Expressway in July 2018.

“To me, going to Washington, D.C. and letting Congress hear our voices about ending gun violence, was something that had to be done,” Cortes said. “Like Fr. Pfleger said, ‘Faith without action is not faith.’”