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Young people working to build a world without gun violence

Friday, August 5, 2022 by Katy Kindley

“We need to fight like hell to fix this problem,” a 13-year-old girl yelled from the Capitol steps. The crowd of hundreds cheered and hollered its approval. The girl was one of a few young people who spoke at the March for Our Lives rally at the Texas Capitol building on June 11. The organization arranged this to show young people that they can be involved in making a world without gun violence.

March for Our Lives was organized in the wake of the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The nonprofit’s vision is to create a world where gun violence is obsolete.

Most recently, March for Our Lives organized marches and rallies in response to the shooting at the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. Thousands of people gathered around the world on June 11 to protest the massacre and to demand action.

Alexa Browning has been a senior policy associate at March for Our Lives for two years. She travels around the country meeting with officials to discuss legislation such as the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act that became law in June.

“Unfortunately, when there’s a peak in gun violence, people get more interested in it and it’s on the forefront of everyone’s mind … when the reality is gun violence is an everyday problem. Shootings happen every day,” Browning said. She is hopeful that momentum is building and that the success of recent initiatives will keep the public engaged. “We just saw the bipartisan bill pass and that’s a start, but there’s still so much more that we need to be doing and I think there’s a lot more people on our side this time.”

The focus of March for Our Lives is to end gun violence by addressing its different roots and causes, which it calls the five forces: 1) armed supremacy; 2) political apathy; 3) the mental health crisis; 4) poverty; and 5) gun glorification.

“It’s not just the guns, it’s so much more than that,” Browning said.

Besides coordinating rallies and marches, March For Our Lives works with elected officials on policy work and other initiatives. During the Covid-19 pandemic, MFOL did not slow down and involved its community in phone banking and other methods of digital outreach.

March for Our Lives representatives also meet with concerned community members and encourage them to advocate for more mental health professionals in schools.

Currently, the group is focused on preparing for the November midterm elections by engaging elected officials in conversations to keep them accountable. March for Our Lives is also heavily invested in voter registration and turnout and has been a presence at rallies and other events.

Browning, who is a Texas native, makes it clear that the goal of the organization is gun violence prevention.

“We’re not here to take away your guns. That’s not our end goal,” Browning said. “I feel like we can agree on more things than they realize. It’s about safe storage. It’s about being a responsible gun owner. It’s about so many other things that I think get misconstrued in the message of the media.”

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