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March for Our Lives: Will You Join Our Teens Saturday?

Teenagers from around the world will march in Washington, D.C., and in their local communities on March 24 to protest gun violence, demanding that adults seriously consider sensible gun legislation.

The march was planned by student organizers and Everytown for Gun Safety, following the mass shooting of 17 students and teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

According to March for Our Lives website, the group supports the right of all law-abiding Americans to keep and bear arms, as set forth by the United States Constitution.

However, they are demanding that Congress pass legislation that will protect and save children from gun violence.

Since the 2012 mass shooting of 26 students and staff at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, approximately 7,000 children have been killed by gunfire.

Last week, 7,000 pairs of children’s shoes were placed near the U.S. Capitol to remind lawmakers that their inaction has consequences.

Newsweek reported on March 16 that according to statistics published by the U.S. Department of Defense, the number of military causalities overseas since Sept. 11, 2001, is less than the number of children who have died from gun violence since Sandy Hook in 2012.

There have been 6,929 soldiers lost abroad since 9/11, which does not include civilian deaths (21 respectfully). More children have died from gun violence than soldiers killed in combat.

Let this news sink in for a moment.

More children have died from gun violence in the U.S. than soldiers have died in overseas combat in 11 fewer years. This news is both startling and infuriating.

For this reason and similar explanations, it bewilders the average citizen why the U.S. Congress will not permit government agencies to study gun violence as a health risk. Why not?

According to The Washington Post, Congress threatened to strip funding in 1996 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention unless the CDC “stopped funding research into firearms injuries and deaths.”

The Department of Justice followed suit in 1999, instructing the National Institute of Justice to cease studying gun violence.

The NIJ resumed its study after Sandy Hook in 2013 but was told not to use the words “gun” or “firearm.”

Even though a vast majority of Americans support gun control, why hasn’t Congress acted to protect children from gun violence?

It’s simple: The National Rifle Association has become one of the most influential lobbyist groups and campaign contributors roaming the halls of Washington.

The Guardian reported that in 2017, the NRA spent $4.1 million in lobbying. However, their most significant influence came in the 2016 presidential election.

Because of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, political action groups are now allowed to spend as much as they want in support or opposition of candidates.

Since that decision, the NRA poured $14.4 million into 44 candidates that won, and spent $34.4 million opposing candidates who lost.

Spending, coupled with its ability to mobilize its supporters to vote, has increased significantly the organization’s power and influence.

Consequently, as the evidence suggests, when our students march this Saturday, we are witnessing a modern-day David versus Goliath confrontation.

The students do not possess the wealth or power of the NRA and its allies, but they do maintain youthful passion and champion the arc of moral history that bends toward justice.

Here are the three reforms the March for Our Lives initiative is seeking:

“1. Passing a law to ban the sale of assault weapons like the ones used in Las Vegas, Orlando, Sutherland Springs, Aurora, Sandy Hook and, most recently, to kill 17 innocent people and injure more than a dozen others at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

“2. Prohibiting the sale of high-capacity magazines such as the ones the shooter at our school – and so many other recent mass shootings used.

“3. Closing the loophole in our background check law that allows dangerous people who shouldn’t be allowed to purchase firearms to slip through the cracks and buy guns online or at gun shows.”

The students’ demands are sensible requests that do not hinder the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

The demands also align with the Declaration of Independence’s affirmation “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

If we cannot keep our children safe and stand up to powerful organizations like the NRA, we deny our children the very soul of the American dream.

Our children deserve to have the opportunity to attend their schools without fear and pursue a happiness that education will bring them.

They do not deserve to be shamed and ridiculed by bullies afraid of losing power and control. Our children deserve to be heard and taken seriously.

For these reasons, I will be joining this next generation of great U.S. citizens this Saturday at a sibling march in Oklahoma City.

If you cannot join the students in Washington, D.C., this Saturday, you can find a sibling march happening near you by visiting MarchForOurLives.com.

Let’s support our students, demanding sensible gun control legislation and their right to live.

Mitch Randall is executive director of EthicsDaily.com. You can follow him on Twitter @rmitchrandall.