Last Saturday, protesters came out by the thousands in cities all over the country to attend the “March for Our Lives” event that was developed as a result of the most recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida and the unprecedented student activism that mobilized thereafter.
I walked up to the capitol building in Boise, Idaho and saw a crowd of thousands with variously colored signs criticizing the NRA, calling for an assault weapon band, and many more about children dying too soon. The crowd was listening to a high school student sing a somber, gentle version of Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror” and when she tearfully finished her song, there were tears in the eyes of many of the audience clapping. I thought her performance of the song was great, but what really touched my heart was looking at everyone around me and realizing that almost half of them were children. There were so many babies, toddlers, kids running, kids crying, kids laughing, kids up to mischief, adolescents giggling, high school couples holding hands, and I felt a wash of gratitude that these beautiful little humans were alive. But that thankfulness also came with fear, and an acknowledgement that so many children, just like these ones wrapping their arms around the legs of their parents, and incapable of being silent during the moment of silence, have suffered violent deaths by the bullets of an assault weapon.
No matter what the politicians or lobbyists say, this was a march to protect American children’s right to live. Joaquin Prime, a young Idahoan rapper who took the stage in Boise, told us: “We are not here to disarm America,” and he was right. Contrary to the rhetoric coming from NRA spokespersons, making restrictions on certain kinds of firearms doesn’t mean that they will all be taken away. Unfortunately, these fears of the NRA do come as a political offensive against the liberal sector’s negative language about the NRA funneling money into politics. But being in the gem state capitol that day, surrounded by children and parents, it was clear to me that this is not a political issue. There are parents on both sides of the coin who want their children to outlive them, to continue their legacy, to take on the future, and to become independent and happy human beings. They do not want the legal sale and purchase of assault weapons to put that narrative at risk.
Towards the end of the march, I saw an older man standing by a fire hydrant holding a sign that read “Gun Owners for Gun Control!” I immediately stopped and asked if I could take a photo of him. He replied: “Absolutely,” with a confident grin and then pulled up his jacket to reveal the handgun holster strapped to his belt. I thought to myself, we need more people like him who enjoy the privileges of the second amendment, but also understand the immense responsibility attached to owning a device that can kill instantly. This man was not afraid of this gun control movement taking his hand-gun away—like the rest of us, he was there for the children, and it is for the children that we will all continue to cry: “Enough is enough."