Tens of Thousands Rally Against Gun Violence in Washington, Across the United States

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WASHINGTON, June 11 (Reuters) – Tens of thousands of protesters descended on Washington on Saturday and at hundreds of rallies across the United States to demand that lawmakers pass legislation to reduce gun violence after the month-long massacre last in an elementary school in Texas.

In the nation’s capital, March for Our Lives (MFOL) organizers estimated that 40,000 people gathered at the National Mall near the Washington Monument in occasional light rain. The gun safety group was founded by student survivors of the 2018 massacre at a high school in Parkland, Florida.

Courtney Haggerty, a 41-year-old research librarian from Lawrenceville, New Jersey, traveled to Washington with her 10-year-old daughter, Cate, and 7-year-old son, Graeme.

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Haggerty said the December 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., when a gunman killed 26 people, mostly six- and seven-year-olds, came a day after the shooting. her daughter’s first birthday.

“It left me raw,” she said. “I can’t believe she’s turning 11, and we keep doing this.”

Kay Klein, a 65-year-old teacher trainer from Fairfax, Va., who retired earlier this month, said Americans should vote out politicians who refuse to act in the midterm elections. November term, when congressional scrutiny will be at stake.

“If we really care about children and families, we have to vote,” she said.

“ABSOLUTELY ABSURD”

A gunman in Uvalde, Texas killed 19 children and two teachers on May 24, 10 days after another gunman murdered 10 black people at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York in a racist attack.

The shootings have added new urgency to the nation’s ongoing debate over gun violence, though the prospects for federal legislation remain uncertain given strong Republican opposition to any gun restrictions.

In recent weeks, a bipartisan group of Senate negotiators has pledged to strike a deal, though they have yet to strike a deal. Their efforts focus on relatively small changes, such as pushing states to pass “red flag” laws that allow authorities to keep firearms from individuals deemed dangerous.

US President Joe Biden, a Democrat who earlier this month urged Congress to ban assault weapons, expand background checks and implement other measures, said he supported Saturday’s protests. Read more

“We are murdered,” said X Gonzalez, a Parkland survivor and co-founder of MFOL, in a moving speech alongside survivors of other mass shootings. “You, Congress, did nothing to prevent it.”

Among other policies, the MFOL has called for an assault weapons ban, universal background checks on those trying to buy firearms, and a national licensing system, which would register gun owners. fire.

Biden told reporters in Los Angeles that he had spoken several times with Sen. Chris Murphy, who is leading the Senate talks, and that negotiators remained “mildly optimistic.”

The Democratic-controlled U.S. House of Representatives passed a sweeping gun safety package on Wednesday, but the legislation has no chance of advancing in the Senate, where Republicans see limits firearms violate the second amendment right to bear arms of the United States Constitution.

Speakers at the Washington rally included David Hogg, a Parkland survivor and co-founder of MFOL; Becky Pringle and Randi Weingarten, presidents of America’s two largest teachers’ unions; and Muriel Bowser, Mayor of Washington, DC

Two high school students from the Washington suburb of Silver Spring, Maryland — Zena Phillip, 16, and Blain Sirak, 15 — said they had never participated in a protest before, but felt motivated after the shooting in Texas.

“Just knowing there’s a possibility that can happen in my own school terrifies me,” Phillip said. “A lot of kids become desensitized to this to the point that they feel hopeless.”

Sirak said she supports more gun restrictions and the problem extends beyond mass shootings to the daily toll of gun violence.

“People can get military-grade guns in America,” she said. “It’s absolutely absurd.”

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Reporting by Ted Hesson; Additional reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt in Los Angeles and Makini Brice in Washington; Written by Joseph Axe; Editing by Aurora Ellis and Daniel Wallis

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