Resounding Theme From Portland's March For Our Lives: Never Again!
Led by courageous teens from around Portland, nearly 15,000 people marched through downtown Portland, Oregon to Pioneer Courthouse Square. Young and old, the central reason for attending the rally was to ensure no more kids would be harmed by guns. The massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida has awakened a sleeping giant. That giant is this nation, and the nation is proving that it will no longer accept gun tragedy as commonplace.
Chants varied in length from the basic "No more NRA" to more advanced "1-2-3-4...no more weapons of war" to the traditional "Hey hey...ho ho... the NRA has got to go" to the familiar call and response:
"What do we want?"
"When do we want it?"
No matter the phrase or chant, marchers shouted in solidarity. Despite the cold rainy weather, rally goers were lively and excited to discuss gun reform. Many shared their desire to finally see comprehensive background checks nationwide. While others went a step further and declared the country's need to ban all assault weapons.
Disgusted and ashamed is how one group of high school students described their view of Congressional inaction on gun violence. "Threats everywhere but our schools are taken seriously" shouted one male student. He continued, "the difference between our schools and movie theaters or malls is that we have to attend school. Obviously Congress should end all gun violence, but especially at the place they force kids to go everyday!" The student's anger was palpable, but his message to Congress was clear: 'Do something!'
Norma Jean Marshall, an 85-year-old Portlander said she is participating in the march to save lives of children threatened by guns. Marshall 'blames her generation for the current gun mess' our society is enduring. But she remains hopeful for change. According to Marshall, "America is waking up and not taking it any more."
Politicians should recognize how dramatically the narrative around campaign financing and gun reform has shifted since the Valentine's Day massacre in Parkland. Students are not just targeting members of Congress and local officials – kids and adults alike have focused their aim on the NRA and the lawmakers who accept their blood money. Partisan affiliations have no bearing on this metric.
Democrat or Republican, Libertarian or Green Party, if you've accepted money from the NRA, expect to be held accountable for that decision. Lawmakers will soon be compelled to break ties with the gun lobby and be more responsive to the legislative demands of their constituents, or face the wrath of the Never Again movement!