Following several mass shootings this year, thousands are expected to turn out in Massachusetts and across the country on Saturday to demand tougher gun control laws.
Justin Meszler and other organizers of this year’s March for Our Lives in Boston say that while they are driven to action by tragedy, they are motivated by hope for change.
“We really believe this time is different, this time can be different because it has to be,” he said. “And my generation, the generation that grew up with all of this, is getting older and we are becoming eligible to vote.”
The Boston event will take place at Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park from 3-5 p.m.
This year’s rallies follow the mass shootings at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, and another at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York.
A Uvalde pediatrician, who treated injured and dying students in the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School, testified before Congress on Wednesday about the need for new gun legislation. “We’re bleeding and you’re not here.”
Other March for Our Lives Events in the Greater Boston Area
March for Our Lives – Salem, Mass.
10 a.m. – 11 a.m.
TBD, Salem, MA 01970
March for Our Lives – Andover, Mass.
10am – 11.30am
Shawsheen Square, 14 York Street, Andover, MA 01810
March for Our Lives – Haverhill, Mass.
10:30 a.m. – noon
Whites Corner, corner of water and Main Street, Haverhill, MA 01830
March for Our Lives – Providence, Rhode Island
Noon – 2 p.m.
RI State House, 82 Smith Street, Providence, RI 02903
March for Our Lives – Nashua, New Hampshire
1 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Soldiers and Sailors Monument, Nashua, NH 03060
facebook.com/events/1034177387483421/ Meet at 12:45/1 at the Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Nashua Walk from there and arrive around 1:30 at GREELY PARK in Nashua where there will be speeches.
March for Our Lives – Ipswich, Mass.
1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Ipswich Center Green, 36 S Main St, Ipswich, MA 01938
The first March for Our Lives took place in 2018 in response to the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Meszler was in 8th grade that year and was among thousands of people who gathered on Boston Common after the Parkland school shooting.
“As far back as I can remember, we’ve had active shooting drills at school,” Meszler said. “We are the school shooting generation.”
Weeks after the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the state passed major gun legislation with bipartisan support. Now, after mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas and Buffalo, New York, there are new calls to action against guns. NBC Miami’s Tony Pipitone explains.
They are calling for a nationwide ban on assault rifles, expanded background checks, raising the minimum age to buy a gun to 21, and red flag laws. At the state level, they support legislation targeting the source of firearms used in crime and the manufacturers of banned weapons.
“It’s not as desperate as people think. And it’s not as polarizing as people think,” said Ari Kane, another student organizer who says they can’t do it alone. “We can come together and make change.”
“We kind of have this idea in our heads that it’s us against the people with guns or that all guns are bad. But there are people we like to think are guns. across the aisle, or whatever, who really want to be part of our movement and including them, that’s how we win,” Kane added.
Hundreds of local marches are planned across the country.
Some of the organizations that will be involved in the Boston event on Saturday include the Massachusetts Teachers Association and the Louis D. Brown Institute — which speak not only to mass shootings, but also to the gun violence that affects communities every day.
Ahead of Saturday’s events, Boston Latin students rallied against gun violence in the form of a walkout organized by ninth-grader Hannah Stoll.
“Getting people to think about gun violence and how we can end it is really important,” she said.
Students said they were tired, angry and numb from more than two dozen school shootings this year.
“Everyone has this doomsday mindset sometimes and we try to pull people out of it to try to make changes,” Romilda Miranda said.
Charlotte Vincent and Jaylin Gemmel, part of March for Our Lives, point out that while there hasn’t been a mass shooting in Massachusetts recently, there are still daily shootings in the streets.
Jim Wallace of the Gun Owners Action League said the proposed restrictions are just smoke and mirrors, urging lawmakers to focus on the real problem: criminals and people with mental illness.
“What I see Congress doing again is just putting restrictions on legitimate people and letting dangerous people walk among us,” he said.
Some of the things Congress is considering include background checks, raising the age to buy a semi-automatic weapon to 21, banning high-capacity magazines, and instituting Red Flag requirements.