Southeast Missouri State University student publication

Cape Democrats to attend March for Our Lives, invite students

Monday, March 19, 2018

Following the recent National School Walkout that took place in high schools across the country, another national movement is gearing up to take place March 24: March for Our Lives.

The March 14 walkouts were in response to the recent school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida that took the lives of 17 students and teachers. Students walked out of school for 17 minutes to send a message about the need for stricter gun reforms, more mental health resources for their peers and school safety.

The March for Our Lives will follow suit Saturday in Washington, D.C. and in cities all over America. One of the nearly 800 sister marches will take place in St. Louis, and the Cape Girardeau County Democrats plan to attend.

The Democrats will be taking a bus to the march and encourage community members and students to come along. Seats on the bus are $10 per person, but up to 20 students will be reimbursed for coming along. Students under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian, and all students wishing to be reimbursed must pay the registration fee in advance and bring along a photo ID.

Vice-chairperson of public relations for the Democrats Andy Leighton said the tragedy of the Columbine High School shooting of 1999 should have been a “clue” to prevent anything like it from happening again.

So while people of all ages are invited to attend the march, Leighton said it’s important for students to do so because they have “grown up in a nation so tangled up in the politics of the Second Amendment that mass shootings of this nature of now become commonplace.”

While students under 18 years of age cannot vote, Leighton said they can help campaigns and candidates through demonstrations, letter writing, phone calling, social media promotions and more.

And right now, the whole country is watching the survivors of the Parkland shooting who were once ordinary students looking forward to prom and graduation, but now activists for change in gun laws.

The actions taken by the Parkland students inspired the Cape Girardeau County Democrats to get involved with the March for Our Lives, Leighton said.

He added the students in Parkland have managed to get legislation passed by legislature and signed by the governor, but opponents are already challenging the law in court.

“The basic problem with this kind of victory, as much as it is necessary, is that it only adds to the national patchwork,” Leighton said. “We need laws that apply to everyone in the U.S., no matter where they happen to live.”

Leighton said he believes there is a good chance national legislation will pass Congress within the next year, after midterm elections, but is “highly unlikely” with the current leadership in the House and Senate.

The Cape Girardeau County Democrats know there is an opportunity to change that leadership in the upcoming general election on Nov. 6. Even with a change in leadership, Leighton said, it is unclear whether President Donald Trump would sign anything deemed unacceptable to the NRA.

With so much uncertainty ahead for reform to gun laws, mental health codes and school safety, Leighton said marches like this one are important to “draw the attention of public officials to the need for universal firearms regulation in conjunction with other measures designed to better ensure the safety and security of all citizens.”

“We are marching in support of those brave young people who have stood up and said out loud: ‘We are not taking this unmitigated violence in our schools any longer!’” Leighton said.

Any students interested in attending the event can find more information by visiting the registration website at https://capedems.com/events/2018/3/24/march-for-our-lives-in-st-louis.

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