Photo Courtesy of Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office
Tens of thousands of supporters marched in Manhattan on Saturday along thoroughfares Central Park West and Sixth Avenue.
By Michael V. Cusenza
Millions of children, parents, advocates and elected officials on Saturday gathered on thoroughfares in New York, D.C., and hundreds of cities across the country for the momentous “March for Our Lives” rally for the timely passage of legislation to address gun-violence issues.
Organized and led by teens, the “March” was the latest in a series of actions authored by student-survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas (Fla.) High School massacre. On Feb. 14, accused gunman Nikolas Cruz, 19, opened fire on former classmates and administrators with an AR-15 assault rifle, killing 17 and wounding more than a dozen.
Since then, MSD students have coordinated rallies, demonstrations at state capitols, appeared on talk shows and other events to press members of Congress into taking unprecedented action on gun safety, incurring the well-heeled wrath of the National Rifle Association along the way.
“Not one more. We cannot allow one more child to be shot at school. We cannot allow one more teacher to make a choice to jump in front of a firing assault rifle to save the lives of students. We cannot allow one more family to wait for a call or text that never comes,” leaders of the “March” wrote on their website. “Our schools are unsafe. Our children and teachers are dying. We must make it our top priority to save these lives.”
On Saturday in Manhattan, elected officials marveled as they marched with thousands of students down Sixth Avenue and Central Park West.
“Today says: ‘We’re not taking it anymore and the NRA is not going to win the day. The people of the United States are going to win the day and common sense is going to win the day,’” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. “And there’s a spirit of youth, an activism from the youth; and when you look, political change normally comes from the young people. You know, older people they become more complacent, more accepting. What this generation is saying is we saw Florida, we understand the facts, and it makes no sense. It makes no sense to defy the reality that we all understand. And they’re angry at Washington and they’re angry at the lack of leadership, and they should be. And they’re saying if you won’t lead we will lead.”
On Sunday, less than 24 hours after the “March,” an inspired Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) issued a public challenge to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.): Bring bills to prevent gun violence to the Senate floor and allow debate.
“Make clear that you hear the millions of young people and others who are demanding their government work on their behalf, not on the behalf of the NRA,” Schumer said to McConnell.