Editorial: The future of the gun reform movement

Daily Editorial Board

On the morning of Saturday, March 24, thousands gathered across the nation in March for Our Lives rallies. Ever since the deadly mass shooting on Feb. 14 in Parkland, Florida, the fight against gun violence has progressed with full force. The students who survived the massacre were the first ones to speak up, and have since gained the mass media’s attention. 

In Minnesota’s march at the Capitol, about 20,000 people gathered and walked through the streets of St. Paul. Through chants like “enough is enough” and “vote them out,” protesters pushed to make a difference. The aim of these protests was to capture the attention of the lawmakers so that the work to create tighter gun laws would actually happen. 

The voices of multiple Minnesota politicians were heard throughout the protest. As we prepare for the next election on Nov. 6, we need to keep the issue of gun violence in mind. The only way to create real change is through policy and action. The multiple speakers encouraged the audience to use their voices to vote. They encouraged the many young people that would be turning 18 to register. 

The support for gun control is definitely moving forward, and the movement has gained popularity because many Americans, namely children, expressed their fear of involvement in mass shootings. While this is an important protest and movement, some are critical of how it might compare to Black Lives Matter protests and demonstrations that have been going on for much of the past few years.

Black Lives Matter has been an established movement since 2014. Since then, there have been countless protests across the nation that spark up every time another innocent black person is shot by the police. In July 2016, shortly following the tragic death of Philando Castile, about 300 people gathered and blocked I-94. Dozens ended up being arrested by the large number of police that showed up in riot gear. 

The solution to both issues is different. The advocacy for the recent gun protests has been to curb gun violence by taking legislative action, including banning bump stocks and assault rifles. The advocacy for protests relating to police brutality calls for better training of police officers and managing the militarization of the police force. However, there are undisputed parallels that cannot be ignored. 

Both issues discuss the perils of gun violence. Whether used by civilians or police officers, both issues show the use of weapons to inflict undue harm to innocent people. Both movements are opposed to senseless killing. Both movements are against guns and the incredible use of force that could come with them. 

Rose Whipple, a high schooler and speaker at March for Our Lives, spoke up about how the issue of gun violence disproportionately impacts people of color. As a student with an indigenous background, she knew firsthand how racial profiling can play a role in gun violence. She also mentioned Philando Castile and how his murder was one that did not need to happen, and happened because of a gun. 

If we can march for our own lives, then we ought to also be able to march for black lives as well. Students at the University of Minnesota come from a diverse set of backgrounds, and it is important for us to defend all of them. In order to fully protect the black students and residents in Minnesota, we need to fight against police brutality and gun violence as a whole, not just when it impacts white students.