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News and notes on guns in America

Trace Readers on Why They Will (or Won’t) ‘March For Our Lives’

What are you doing on March 24?

On Saturday, thousands of people are expected to join the student-led protest March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C. Hundreds of sibling marches are planned in all 50 states and in over 25 countries around the world.

Earlier this week, we circulated this short survey asking our readers to share with us what the marches mean to them and whether or not they would be participating.

We received hundreds of responses from people across the country who shared their motivations for participating in the demonstrations, or staying at home.

Read a selection of the responses below, edited and condensed for clarity.

 

To Honor Lost Loved Ones

Elizabeth Bouquet, Milford, Connecticut
Marching in Shelton, Connecticut

“I am a college educator, a teacher of teachers, and the wife of a retired police officer. I am committed to gun violence prevention and, while most gun violence does not happen in schools, school-age children are disproportionately victims of gun violence.”

“I have lost students, family, and friends to gun violence, through completed suicides and unintentional discharges.”

Paul Kemp, Portland, Oregon
Will be marching in Washington, D.C.

“My daughter Sara is a 4th-grade teacher here in Portland. For her job she has had to practice lockdown drills and how to confront a shooter should he gain access to her classroom. Both Sara and I will be in D.C. for the march.”

“I am a gun owner and hunter. My firearms are always locked up and unloaded unless I am using them. My brother-in-law had the back of his head blown off by a gunman armed with a Stag-15 assault rifle during the Clackamas Town Center Mall shooting on Tuesday, Oct 11th, 2012. I have been advocating for improved gun safety here in Oregon and nationally.”

Paul G., Long Island, New York
Marching locally

“I will be participating at an event in Huntington, New York. I will be attending and speaking to honor my 14-year-old niece Jaime Guttenberg who was killed in the Parkland, Florida, mass shooting. I will be speaking about gun violence, changing the leadership of the NRA and lack of leadership at the federal government to correct the issue of gun violence.”

Maryll M., Naperville, Illinois
Marching in St. Paul, Minnesota

“Two close family members committed suicide with a gun. One was a gun-lover, and the other a gun-hater. My husband also suffers from this sometimes-fatal disease called depression.”

“Students’ leadership has brought a higher level of attention to this issue, increasing the possibility of legislative action. We need to support students, and take advantage of the opportunity we are afforded to make incremental gains to reduce gun violence.”

Staying Home

Chris Parks, Gallatin, Tennessee
Will not be marching

“While I agree that school shootings are a tragedy I completely disagree with how this march intends to stop them. Allowing willing teachers to become trained and armed and removing the idea (as it is not the reality) of gun-free zones around our schools will reduce these already rare events.”

“I am a Second Amendment advocate. I do not arm myself out of fear but out of preparation.”

Devon T.
Will not be marching

“I am against what they are trying to do. This is an attempt to squash any debate on gun control by attributing a false motive (we don’t care about the kids being murdered) and a false dilemma (support gun control or you don’t care about children being murdered).  It’s appalling.”

“I am a CCW holder, and I carry everywhere I go, because I choose to be in charge of my own safety.  I refuse to disarm myself and ‘roll the dice’ that if something were to happen, I will be lucky enough to be spared.  I want people to feel safe around me should a dangerous scenario arise, and those that know me, and know that I carry, do feel safe around me.”

Paul Nguyen, Houston
Will not be marching

“I own a myriad of firearms. It is my hobby to collect and shoot these guns. I carry a firearm on my person for my personal defense as well as my family’s. I fear the passing of more gun control laws will incrementally increase in scope when the previous gun control measure fails to curb gun violence banning and restricting more with each failed law. I may lose my gun to follow the law, but will the criminal?”

Matt, Michigan
Will not be marching

“I do not agree with the basic solutions the marchers are advocating, and I do not agree with not addressing the solutions they’re skipping over.  They’re having the wrong conversations as far as I have seen.”

“As a gun owner I have an interest in both reducing gun violence AND retaining private gun ownership rights.”

Survivors Make Their Stand 

Pam Impson, El Cajon, California
Marching in San Diego

“I’m marching as a survivor of a gun crime to demand that Congress passes the bill to ban assault weapons, to support the students in Parkland, to honor the victims and survivors of gun violence, and to show the NRA how many people value lives over money.”

“I was kidnapped and sexually assaulted at gunpoint when I was a teenager and have lost two family members and a friend to gun suicide.”

Kimberly Brusk, Atlanta
Will not be marching  

“I’m a domestic and gun violence survivor. I’m staying home this time. The Parkland movement has been inspiring but also triggering and retraumatizing.”

Constance A., Eustis, Florida
Marching locally

“As a retired public school teacher, I feel I must speak against arming teachers.”

“I was shot at accidentally in church on Christmas Eve about five years ago. Someone brought a gun into the church with a hair trigger. It went off and an usher near me was shot through the leg. He went to the hospital and subsequently recovered. I have not. The Eustis police returned the gun to the shooter who was never charged. I realized then that the gun people had all the rights. Not one word about the incident ever appeared in the local newspapers and our priest did not report it to his bishop.”

“Enough is Enough”

Jonathan Schulman, New York
Marching in Washington, D.C.

“I am an elementary school civics teacher. And my wife is a public prosecutor who directs their mental health unit. We both have an interest in seeing young people develop into happy, confident and productive members of their communities. We had a family meeting about it a few days ago with our three teenage daughters and decided we needed to go to D.C. Yes, we all lead busy lives, but we knew we had to go to march for our lives. Between work, school and community activities, it was difficult to schedule, but easy to justify. I agree with many of the outspoken Parkland students: ‘Enough is enough!'”

Lawrence Walters, Skokie, Illinois
Marching in Chicago

“I’m a long time gun owner, and have enjoyed them my entire life, especially growing up. I definitely have a strong connection to my father through them. While I haven’t felt the negative impact of guns in my life, I’ve been slow to rise up and challenge the gun industry and pro-gun mindset. I’m ready to take them on now! 

“Our children’s lives are more important than gun rights. The pendulum has swung too far for too long to the side of gun ownership – it is time to reverse that. Fewer guns mean less violence, and not just at our schools but in our communities of color. There’s a lot of work to do beyond guns, but this is a straightforward start.”

Natasha Paz, Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Marching in Parkland

“I’m infuriated that common-sense, widely-supported gun control measures, such as universal background checks, have still not been enacted by the people who supposedly represent us. Gun violence is an epidemic in this country, and it is everyone’s problem.”

“Two of my younger siblings have survived school shootings, in different states, 12 years apart. My sister was a freshman at Platte Canyon High School in 2006, and my brother is currently a junior at Stoneman Douglas. Both times were a terrifying experience for our whole family. This insanity has to stop.”

We want to hear from you. Tell us about your plans for March 24 and how the issue affects you here.