Students organize the “March for Our Lives Easton”, join national movement on gun control

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Photo courtesy of Everytown for Gun Safety March For Our Lives Easton to march on Saturday, March 24

Julia Owens

The families of “March For Our Lives” recognize the paralyzing fear of sending their sons or daughters off to school and not knowing whether they will make it back alive or not. Those families scheduled a march to take place on March 24 in Washington, D.C., demanding we take action, according to the March For Our Lives website. Cities throughout the United States will be joining them, including Easton.

For some, the March For Our Lives movement is an inspiring gateway to creating a safe environment for schools across America. For others, it is the opportunity to finally have their voice heard. The activism is entirely student-led, which has inspired students around the nation to take a stand and join the march.

Madeline McLaughlin ’20, who is one of the organizers of the Easton protest, wrote in an email that she is “tired” of the argument of the second amendment right.

“I’m just tired of seeing the news reports over and over and over again … It frustrates me that the immediate response to this gun control argument is, ‘well it’s our second amendment right…’  Yes, it is … But is it worth putting more children at risk in order to have assault weapons on the market when you can still hunt or protect your family with a gun that doesn’t shoot 500 rounds a minute?”

According to McLaughlin, The March for Our Lives organization has a “three-part goal.”

“The March for Our Lives organization has a 3-part goal which is to ban the sale of assault weapons, ban the sale of high capacity magazines, and to get rid of the loophole in our background check system that leads to firearms in the hands of those who should not be allowed to purchase them,” she wrote in an email.

Thousands of people are in support of this campaign. 41,350 people have donated $3,375,930 to the organization in just one month, and is well on its way to reaching its goal of $3.8 million, according to the March For Our Lives GoFundMe page.

So far, about 300 people have expressed interest in the March For Our Lives Easton event on March 24, including some Lafayette students. The group will meet on the Quad at 11:30am on Saturday, March 24 and walk down the hill to the center square at 11:45am. According to McLaughlin, there will be speakers, music, and tables set up for voting registration and local activist groups.

Many are hopeful that this non-violent approach to the situation will resonate more with those they are trying to influence.

“I think the value of a march is evident if you look at any kind of civil rights history,” McLaughlin wrote in an email. “Sometimes activists get the reputation of being wild or reckless so a peaceful march is an effective way to dispel that rumor and to disrupt people’s day just enough so that they stop and listen.”

The organizers have ensured the march will be safe for the community, having gone to great lengths to not only organize the walk, but also to solidify support from Mayor Sal Panto and the Easton police.

“I looked into if there was a March for Our Lives event already happening in Easton and there wasn’t an official event created with the March for Our Lives organization so I made one,” McLaughlin wrote. “I was soon contacted by Matt Benusa [‘21] who had the same intentions … so we just joined forces and moved on to recruiting as many people as we could to come.”

“We have a great group of people helping us organize this event and we’ve kindly gotten support from the mayor and the police department to ensure that the march is safe and productive.”

While the march will be a great way to bring the nation together in the fight against gun violence, McLaughlin hopes that it will also unify our own, much smaller community in Easton.

“We made a big effort to involve the Easton Area High School students in this march because this is their city and this issue affects them directly. We were inspired by what they already did at the walkout and wanted to help give them a platform to continue their efforts and our position as Lafayette students gives us access to make this happen.”

McLaughlin ended on an optimistic note for the campaign’s success.

“My hope for the long term is that one day in the near future we don’t see on the news that another group of kids has been murdered in a school shooting … I truly hope that we can see to it that the gun control that this country needs is put in place in order to make it safer for all of us,” she wrote.

“A family member of one of the victims of the Parkland shooting said something along the lines of, ‘While we appreciate your thoughts and prayers, we are begging you to do something to help. This shouldn’t have happened to our family and it shouldn’t happen to any more families.’ That’s why we’re doing this. I cannot say enough how inspiring the Parkland students are. In the face of the horror that they had to live through at such a young age, they are taking action and becoming heroes.”

Matthew Benusa is a staff writer for The Lafayette. He did not contribute to this article.