As policymakers debate gun-control laws in light of the latest mass shootings in the U.S., a youth-led organization is planning weekend demonstrations around the country to demand action. Events are planned in several Minnesota cities.
This Saturday, March for Our Lives will host rallies in roughly 450 locations. The group was formed after the Parkland, Florida, school shootings in 2018.
Shaun Laden, president of the education support professionals’ chapter of the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers, said America is unique in how it is routinely affected by gun violence. He added demonstrators are determined to not let the latest incidents fade in the public’s memory without substantive changes.
“Our young people are bearing the brunt of this, and so we got to do things differently,” Laden asserted. “I think that’s what this mobilization around the country [is], coming together to say enough is enough. There needs to be, and there will be, political consequences for elected leaders who don’t support gun control.”
He will be at the Minneapolis rally. Other events are scheduled for Brainerd, St. Cloud, Rochester and Albert Lea. Advocates are calling for actions such as a federal ban on assault weapons and a national “red flag” law. Many Republicans argued there needs to be more security at schools, and an emphasis on mental health.
While there are partisan divides, public polls show a majority of Americans want stronger gun laws. The latest calls follow the Texas school shooting that left 19 students dead.
Laden acknowledged the issue plays out differently in communities around the U.S., noting the many young people who have been killed in Minneapolis away from school. He added this weekend’s rallies can keep the conversation going.
“When you’re trying to seek institutional change against an entrenched status quo, it can take time,” Laden emphasized. “You got to stay at it and continue to talk to people about what they believe.”
A larger rally will be held in Washington, D.C. Saturday with several prominent speakers, as well as remarks from teachers and survivors of gun violence.
Mike Moen is a writer for the Minnesota News Connection.