By John Ikani
Thousands of people rallied on the National Mall and across the United States on Saturday in a renewed push for gun control measures after recent deadly mass shootings from Uvalde, Texas, to Buffalo, New York, that activists say should compel Congress to act.
Those taking part at the hundreds of marches carried slogans like “I want freedom from getting shot”.
“Protect People Not Guns,” said one sign held by a protester near the Washington Monument. “Fear Has No Place In Schools,” read another.
“Enough is enough,” District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser told the second March for Our Lives rally in her city. “I speak as a mayor, a mom, and I speak for millions of Americans and America’s mayors who are demanding that Congress do its job. And its job is to protect us, to protect our children from gun violence.”
Two horrific shootings last month — one at a Texas elementary school that killed 19 children and two teachers, and another at a New York supermarket that left 10 Black people dead — helped spur the rallies, organized by March For Our Lives.
Outside of Washington, hundreds of other demonstrations were planned around the country Saturday, including in Parkland, where protesters carried signs with messages such as “Am I Next?”
Thousands also turned out in New York City. In Brooklyn, white crosses were erected for the children killed in Uvalde and portraits of those killed in Buffalo fastened to shopping carts.
Gun control advocates are calling for tighter restrictions or an outright ban on such rifles. But opponents have sought to cast mass shootings as primarily a mental health issue, not a weapons problem.
US President Joe Biden backed the protests, calling on Congress to “pass common sense gun safety legislation”.
Despite this, any attempt to change the law is likely to be blocked by Republicans.