Students protest gun legislation at nationwide March for Our Lives

Students protest gun legislation at nationwide March for Our Lives

Across the country, March 24, students marched, united by fear and anger and the desire to enact stricter gun control laws. Among the marchers were Yarah Feteih (11) and Maddie Meyer (11).

In San Diego, Feteih volunteered through the March for Our Lives outreach. On the steps of City Hall, she held up a sign emblazoned with the face of Peter Wang, one of the victims in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. Looking out at the crowd of thousands, she saw people coming together to fight for the change they sought.

In Los Angeles, Meyer held up a sign that had crossed out “thoughts and prayers” for “policy and change.” She had taken the train up for that day, determined to act when politicians had not.

And in Washington D.C., Amy Bronzwaig, a former Westview student, joined a crowd of strangers and classmates alike. She had traveled more than 1,000 miles from Parkland, Florida, holding firmly to the belief that “our generation will finally be the ones to make a much needed change, as long as we do not give up.”

Though they were separated by distance, that day, the three students had more in common than not; they were fighting against the world they had grown up in. And the feeling was palpable.

The fear of a shooting that had plagued them in school and out was slightly assuaged when they witnessed the fervor at the March for Our Lives and felt the true scope of the support behind the movement.

“[Seeing] all the teachers and students at my school that said ‘no’ to fear and anxiety and went to the march anyway, shows just how important this is to us,” Bronzwaig said. “[And] seeing all of them in Washington D.C., as well as at the March in Parkland, fueled my passion even more.”

Bronzwaig, a current student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas, had been evacuating for a fire drill when gunshots rang out. In the chaos, she managed to make it safely across the street, but some of her friends, schoolmates, and faculty were not as lucky.

“This march was somewhat difficult to attend emotionally,” Bronzwaig said. “I have trouble going to any highly populated place. But I went anyway because I will not allow Nikolas Cruz to rule my life and decide what I do with it.”

After the lockdown at Westview last year, Meyer recalls fearing for the lives of her sisters. She had been sick that day, and couldn’t help but wonder what would have happened had she been there and if there had been a more serious threat.

So on Saturday, she marched. Along with hundreds of thousands of others from 5th and Broadway to Los Angeles City Hall.

Chanting “What do we want? Gun control. When do we want it? Now!” the crowd’s voices merged under their united purpose. One kid at the march in Los Angeles, sitting on the shoulders of his father, carried a sign that declared “Kids trump guns.”

Celebrities sang and leading students spoke. But perhaps most poignant were the messages from two Parkland students and one Columbine survivor on the stage in downtown Los Angeles.

“The man from Columbine couldn’t believe we were still talking about gun control 20 years later and the Parkland students were yelling ‘vote them out!’” Meyer said. “This generation will change the laws when we vote.”

In remembering the Parkland victims, Bronzwaig also relived the moment that started it all.

“I called my mom to tell her that I loved her while trying to escape because at the time I didn’t know where the gunshots were coming from,” Bronzwaig said. “All I knew is I heard them and I needed to get out as something was clearly very wrong.”

On the steps of the San Diego City Hall, Feteih’s poster of Peter Wang stood next to the other victims of the Parkland shooting.

“It pains me to think about how these students probably had the same dreams, goals, and aspirations as any other student,” Feteih said. “They, however, have lost their lives at the hands of someone who had direct access to a semi-automatic gun.”

With the possibility of gun violence always in the front of her mind, Feteih finds herself exhausted of having to be so alert all the time, in preparation and worry of another tragic instance.

“Shooting after shooting, the question ‘What if someone has to hold a poster of me one day?’ cannot seem to leave my brain alone,” she said.

In Los Angeles, while Charlie Puth sang “See You Again,” the screen flashed the faces of the Parkland victims.

The crowd, tearful and hopeful, was made up of mostly youth.

“It was really cool to see so many young people so passionate,” Meyer said. “We’re the future.”

One of the most prominent young figures at the D.C. March came forward as the granddaughter of Martin Luther King Jr. Yolanda Renee King reminded everyone of her late grandfather’s dream, and offered up her own.

“I have a dream that enough is enough,” King added. “And that this should be a gun-free world, period.”

At the end of the day, when the march began to wind down in D.C., protesters swayed to the chant of “we want change.”

“That moment was definitely one of the most memorable and inspiring moments of the whole march,” Bronzwaig said, “because it really conveyed our unity and how we are going to get through all of this together while [at the same time] reaching our goals.”