Vote them out: In a new high for youth activism in US, thousands march against guns

Washington: In a historic groundswell of youth activism, hundreds of thousands of teenagers and their supporters rallied across the US against gun violence Saturday, vowing to transform fear and grief into a “vote-them-out” movement and tougher laws against weapons and ammo.
They took to the streets of the nation’s capital and such cities as Boston, New York, Chicago, Houston, Minneapolis, Phoenix, Los Angeles and Oakland, California, in the kind of numbers seen during the Vietnam era, sweeping up activists long frustrated by stalemate in the gun debate and bringing in lots of new, young voices.
They were called to action by a brand-new corps of leaders: student survivors of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 people dead February 14.
“If you listen real close, you can hear the people in power shaking,” Parkland survivor David Hogg said to roars from the protesters packing Pennsylvania Avenue from the stage near the Capitol many blocks back toward the White House.
“We’re going to take this to every election, to every state and every city. We’re going to make sure the best people get in our elections to run, not as politicians but as Americans.
“Because this,” he said, pointing behind him to the Capitol dome, “this is not cutting it.”
Some of the young voices were very young. Yolanda Renee King, the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr’s 9-year-old granddaughter, drew from the civil rights leader’s most famous words in declaring from the stage: “I have a dream that enough is enough. That this should be a gun-free world. Period.”
By all appearances — there were no official numbers — Washington’s March for Our Lives rally rivalled the women’s march in 2017 that drew far more than the predicted 300,000.
The National Rifle Association went silent on Twitter as the protests unfolded, in contrast to its reaction to the nationwide school walkouts against gun violence March 14, when it tweeted a photo of an assault rifle and the message “I’ll control my own guns, thank you.”
President Donald Trump was in Florida for the weekend and did not weigh in on Twitter either.
White House spokesman Zach Parkinson said: “We applaud the many courageous young Americans exercising their First Amendment rights today.” He pointed to Trump’s efforts to ban bump stocks and his support for school-safety measures and extended background checks for gun purchases.
Since the bloodshed in Florida, students have tapped into a current of gun control sentiment that has been building for years. Yet, still faces a powerful foe in the NRA, its millions of supporters and lawmakers who have resisted any encroachment on gun rights.
Organizers are hoping the electricity of the crowds, their sheer numbers and the under-18 roster of speakers will create a tipping point, starting with the midterm congressional elections this fall. To that end, chants of “Vote them out!” rang through the Washington crowd.