Marist Students Attend New York March for Our Lives
As 18-year-old Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting survivor Emma González delivered a tearful speech at the March for Our Lives in Washington D.C. March 24, thousands of supporters in New York joined González and her compatriots in mobilizing efforts to support tighter gun control measures.
Nearly 200,000 gathered in New York City, armed with an array of humorous, clever, or downright tragic signs to protest gun violence. Children, students, parents, teachers, former-military personnel, and gun owners alike called upon lawmakers to pass stricter gun legislation.
Among the NYC protesters was Marist student Tess Carcaldi ‘19, who marched in honor of her hometown, Newtown, Conn., and her former elementary school, Sandy Hook.
“[Sandy Hook] was a place I loved as a kid--and now that it’s gone as a result of gun violence, as well as the innocence of the children who attended school on that tragic day, I can’t sit back and just continue to watch this happen,” Carcaldi said.
After undergoing one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history, students of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school in Parkland, Fla., created the March for Our Lives movement to spur conversation surrounding gun regulation and to “assure that no special interest group or political agenda is more critical than timely passage of legislation to effectively address the gun violence issues that are rampant in our country.” The main march in D.C. was accompanied by about 800 marches nationwide--garnering more than a million protesters across all fifty states.
According to its mission, the student-led demonstration advocated universal, comprehensive background checks, equipping the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) with a digitized, searchable database, funds for the Center for Disease Control to research the gun violence epidemic in America, a high-capacity magazine ban, and an assault weapons ban.
New York attendees across the state united in chants such as “vote them out,” and “in November, we will win,” singling out politicians who accept funding from the National Rifle Association and contribute to political inaction in gun regulation.
Carcaldi embraced the movement’s “enough is enough” slogan, calling for immediate legislation to halt mass shootings.
“This was my own way of showing that gun violence and mass shootings are in fact an epidemic in America--one that needs to cease,” she said.
Sarah Franzetti ‘19 also attended the NYC march, and expressed her frustration with the stagnancy of gun control legislation in the wake of numerous consecutive mass shootings.
“I marched because it has been extremely frustrating to hear about one shooting after another and see the exact same response from politicians who give thoughts and prayers and wait for the media to stop covering it,” Franzetti said.
Franzetti emphasized the crucial role of young Americans, who are spearheading the gun control battle.
“Young people have been at the forefront of movements throughout history and to be a part of that as a college student really was a great feeling.”
The March for Our Lives, Poughkeepsie, which took place on the Walkway Over the Hudson State Park, largely mirrored its NYC sister march, with nearly 8,000 walking the length of the 1.3 mile bridge, according to the Poughkeepsie Journal.
“March for Our Lives was one of the most life changing events I’ve ever experienced,” said Madison Vettorino ‘20, who attended the Poughkeepsie demonstration. “It was incredibly inspiring to see people of all ages and backgrounds unify for this really important cause.”
“In my opinion, this march was really a demonstration of love. It made me so hopeful that change is coming.”
Tony Cabral ‘21 attended the Poughkeepsie march as well, but was disappointed to see a low turnout of Marist students and lack of campus advertising for the march.
In an opinion article for the Marist Circle, Cabral wrote, “I acknowledge this was a political rally and that Marist hosted the Dutchess-Ulster Heart Walk that same morning, but students who wish to walk in support of an end to mass shootings (which should be a majority of students) should have known there was a march happening right here in Poughkeepsie.”
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who joined the NYC March, previously expressed his intention to combat gun violence through stricter regulations. On Feb. 22, he announced the formation of a coalition between New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Rhode Island to reduce violence and crack down on illegal firearms crossing state borders. The states will establish a joint database to share gun information and better intercept guns used in crimes.
“We're not waiting for federal action. All of our states are already ahead of the federal government when it comes to laws on this issue,” Cuomo said in a Feb. 22 press conference. “The Florida Parkland massacre, one would hope that it would spur responsible federal action but we're not going to hold our breath and we’re not going to risk our children's lives.”
With New York’s Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act of 2013, which banned most assault weapons (or automatic weapons with military assault features), New York is among the states with the strictest gun laws in the nation. But, with the unprecedented attendance at the solidarity March for Our Lives, citizens are pushing for more--especially at the federal level.
“The changes that we are asking for are not extreme, but rather they are completely reasonable requests to protect the safety of children and all citizens,” Franzetti said. “It is exciting to see push backs against things that should have been changed a long time ago, and I get to be apart of that.”