NORCROSS, GA — Two students from Norcross High School thought it was important for them to participate in the “March for Our Lives” in downtown Atlanta on Saturday. Georgians joined hundreds of thousands of others in Washington D.C., and other cities calling for stricter gun control laws. Rallies, across the U.S. and internationally, were in response to the slaying of 17 students and teachers at a Parkland, Florida, high school last month by a student armed with an AR-15. The marches, which were called for by student activists from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, included calls for increased gun control nationwide.
Nia Hemphill and Kiara Edwards made the were among the earliest participants waiting for the march to begin.
“I think that it’s important to come out and march because I feel like you need your voice to be heard,” Hemphill said. “Guns have no place in school. Our school actually received a gun threat the other day and everyone stopped coming to school. And I think that it’s ridiculous that we have to be afraid for our safety when we enter a school building.”
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Edwards agreed with her friend about not feeling safe at school.
“We have gun threats and I was scared myself,” she said. “My mom still let me go to school but some kids didn’t go to school. They all said it was important to protest and that baffles me. I was like, you’re afraid but you don’t want to do anything about it.”
Hemphill said if she could change one thing about the gun laws in America, it would be raising the age limit to get a gun.
“I’m 18 and the fact that I could go today and purchase a gun is kind of scary, considering I can’t purchase alcohol even at the same age.”
Edwards said she doesn’t think automatic weapons are necessary at all.
“For wars, yeah,” she said, “but not for everyday life. If someone is purchasing that, then there’s obviously something wrong.”
The Atlanta march, which began at 11 a.m., was organized by The Georgia Alliance for Social Justice — the group that sprang from the 2017 Women’s March in Atlanta. The group set up an online store to help raise funds for the Atlanta march.
Headcount, a non-partisan organization that works with musicians to promote participation in democracy, brought 50 volunteers to the event in order register people to vote. The group had a goal that each volunteer could get between five and 10 new voters registered.
The march started at the civil rights center, at Liberty Plaza, near the Georgia state capitol building. Student and adult leaders spoke to inspire marchers before the march, which headed south on Centennial Olympic Park Drive then east on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.
According to the national March For Our Lives website, there were 827 events planned worldwide.
Nationally, student organizers planned the march, in collaboration with nonprofit Everytown for Gun Safety and with the support of donors. Cameron Kasky, a junior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, announced the march — along with his classmates.
Photo and video by Patch Editor John Barker