On Saturday, March 24, I was honored to participate in Brunswick, Maine’s March For Our Lives. Hundreds of peaceful protestors of all ages gathered on the town commons, demanding reform of gun control laws. We marched with colorful signs and chants such as “Hey hey, ho ho! The NRA has got to go!” My personal favorite chant was directed at politicians accepting NRA money and refusing to implement common sense gun laws: “Vote them out!” Brunswick High School students spoke with unbelievable poise, and a pastor from First Parish blessed the crowd. We sang Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land,” a poignant choice at a moment when we all hope to one day live in a land free of the scourge of assault weapons and gun violence. In order to further the dialogue around American gun culture and disseminate data about gun violence, I have compiled ten reasons (among many possible and compelling others) for why I participated in the March For Our Lives.
I marched because…
- 3,286 Americans have been killed by guns within the first eighty-five days of 2018. Read that sentence again.
- Only one “instant background check,” taking less than an hour, is required to buy a gun in America; yet, because this check is not required by federal law when buying a gun from a private seller, roughly one-third of American gun owners buy their weapon without any background check.
- Background checks for gun purchasers as they exist today are failing miserably. In nineteen recent mass shootings, “at least nine gunmen had criminal histories or documented mental health problems that did not prevent them from obtaining their weapons.”
- Forty-six American children and teens die every day due to gunshots: “…in murders, assaults, suicides & suicide attempts, unintentional shootings, and police intervention.”
- As CNN writes, “Americans own nearly half of the estimated six hundred fifty million civilian-owned guns worldwide.” For context, as of March 2018, the United States constitutes approximately 4.7% of the global population.
- As the Everytown For Gun Safety website writes, “Black Americans make up fourteen percent of the U.S. population, but are victims of more than half of all gun homicides.” Gun violence in communities of color, especially the shootings perpetrated in acts of police brutality, must be addressed.
- According to Everytown for Gun Safety, “Nearly two-thirds (sixty-two percent) of firearm deaths in the U.S. are suicides.” This mental health crisis and its intersection with American gun culture needs to be immediately addressed.
- Given that “America’s gun homicide rate is more than twenty-five times the average of other high-income countries,” are we really living in “the land of the free?”
- In 1791, the Second Amendment was written about single-shot muskets. In 2018, some of the weapons commercially available to United States consumers are semi-automatic rifles such as the AR-15, which was used in mass shootings in Parkland, Florida, Aurora, Colorado, San Bernadino, California, Pulse Nightclub, and Sandy Hook Elementary School, to name a few. While fully automatic assault rifles can only legally be sold to the police or the military, legislature does not yet restrict additions such as “bump stocks” that can make a semi-automatic gun perform as an automatic gun. President Trump wants to regulate the sale of bump stocks, whereas other senators want to ban it entirely.
- I do not want to live in fear of my future children being shot for walking into their kindergarten classroom. I know criminals will continue to commit crimes and kill people regardless of our gun laws; it is naïve to expect otherwise. But without guns, especially assault rifles, so easily accessible, fewer Americans would be killed. Gun control is a humanitarian cause, not a political one. I am sick of Americans dying, and that is why I marched.