By Mark F. Gray, Special to the AFRO, [email protected]
The aftermath of the mass shootings in El Paso, TX and Dayton, Ohio have led to groups around the country calling for stricter gun control measures. Several groups rallied in front of the White House and U.S. Capitol demanding lawmakers make sweeping legislative changes.
According to the Associated Press (AP) these marches were prompted by the fatal incidents that took the lives of 29 people over 13 hours in what appear to be non-coordinated attacks in the Texas and Ohio cities. Two organizations who have been at the front of the gun reform movement staged an impromptu march while in the District for their national conventions.
The groups – Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action – were reportedly visiting the Nation’s Capital to continue developing an agenda for Congress regarding gun control from the grassroots level. However, their plans for the weekend changed last Saturday when the first reports from El Paso about the Walmart massacre became public.
Several hundred volunteers for groups seeking tougher laws on guns marched on the White House and the Capitol in a demonstration- at least partly inspired by the shootings in El Paso. Amber Gustafson, a volunteer leader for Moms Demand Action confirmed to the AP, the organization was already holding their national meetings in Washington when they heard about the fatal Texas incident and decided to take their march to the White House.
Gustafson also told the AP her group also works with groups at all levels of government. However, she added, “We need a federal remedy.”
With President Donald J. Trump on vacation at his resort in New Jersey, the contingent of vocal protesters lined up outside the White House in Lafayette Square for the unplanned march. The groups, wearing their traditional red T-shirts, began their organic display of non-violent civil disobedience a short distance from the Oval Office.
Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action, also told the Associated Press that volunteers from her group and Students Demand Action marched Saturday to make a point to federal lawmakers. These groups have joined a bi-partisan group of national legislators who are now pushing for the Republican controlled United States Senate to act on passing laws that would require background checks for people wanting to buy guns that passed the Democratic controlled House of Representatives earlier this year.
The groups are also advocating for the future gun reform laws to close the loop in background checks that some experts feel would reduce the number of deaths and limit the availability of semi-automatic weapons to consumers.
The peaceful, but passionate gun reform protagonists lined up en masse and used their ad hoc forum to bring attention to the tragic crisis by pumping fist and waving signs of discontent in the air. In many of the videos that were posted on various social media channels members of the organization are shown vehemently starting the protest with chants of “This is what democracy looks like,” and “Not one more,” before taking their march up to Capitol Hill.