BUFFALO, N.Y. – On an average day, 96 Americans are killed with guns and on March 24, students stood up across the world to say enough is enough. Following the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., the March For Our Lives campaign planned over 700 peaceful demonstrations around the globe to call on Congress to stop giving their “thoughts and prayers” and to show real change. March For Our Lives is a student-led group that advocates for stricter gun control, and has defined its mission as seeing that not a single child is shot in school from this point forward.
In Buffalo, nearly 3,000 people gathered at the steps of City Hall as students, teachers, and state representatives spoke up against gun violence and the lack of action by the federal government.
“We as a community need to stand up and say ‘never again,’” said Meghan Hall, a student at Williamsville South High School. “Never again” served as the motto for the marches across the world on posters, merchandise, and on a number of social media platforms.
“I should not have less rights as an openly gay teenager than a gun,” said Kenmore East High School student, Robert Snekser, as he held a poster that reiterated his speech. Students lined up one after the other to share their feelings and send a call to action to those in power.
“Throughout this nation young America is being heard,” said N.Y. Congressman Brian Higgins. “Let this be the day that the next generation of the civil rights movement begins.” Higgins, along with Mayor Byron W. Brown and Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, expressed their desire for a federal assault weapon ban.
Two survivors from Marjory Stoneman Douglas attended the rally on Saturday as well. Justin Colton, who was wounded by two bullets, and Ryan Walsh were in the area for a hockey tournament and stood with local politicians in front of City Hall.
The March For Our Lives rally in Buffalo was coordinated by the WNY Peace Center along with local law enforcement. Jamie Marzullo, a volunteer with the WNY Peace Center, spoke about what motivated her to volunteer her time for this cause.
“This is not a right versus left issue,” said Marzullo. “This is about [us] coming together and being united in keeping our kids safe and do what should’ve been done decades ago.”
In Washington D.C., hundreds of thousands of people gathered as impassioned students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas called upon Congress to take action just as those in Buffalo did. One survivor, Emma Gonzalez, took the stage and fell silent for six minutes and 20 seconds, the exact time it took the gunman to kill her classmates back in February.
Celebrities such as Paul McCartney and Miley Cyrus were also present at Saturday’s demonstrations. McCartney marched in New York City in honor of his beloved friend John Lennon, and Cyrus performed her hit song “The Climb” at the demonstration in Washington D.C.
“This is a national problem that requires a national solution,” said Mayor Brown. Although the March For Our Lives rallies have come and gone, their message has not dissolved. Students appear determined to not let this issue fade into the background until they see actual change, and they’ll continue to say “never again.”