Young Gun Control Advocates Expand to Racial Issues

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After the 2018 Florida mass school shooting, the massacre’s young survivors converted their outrage into political organizing. They brought hundreds of thousands of people to Washington for the March for Our Lives, pressed the case for tougher gun laws,  registered 50,000 new voters nationally, and helped drive a surge in turnout by young people in the 2018 elections.  Yet Congress passed no gun legislation, and another mass killing occurred a year ago in El Paso. With the U.S. swept up in protests over racial justice, the youthful voices that propelled a movement just two years ago find themselves less squarely focused on gun violence. Surveys show that racial justice, the coronavirus pandemic and the related economic downturn far outpace guns as top issues of concern for young people. When asked about gun control, it is the oldest Americans who now most often express support, the New York Times reports.

The activists who organized after the Parkland shooting say they have built up their organizing capacity and remain committed to making at least as significant a difference in 2020 as they did in 2018. This year, they say, a big part of that will mean building solidarity with organizers confronting racial injustice. “We recognize how gun violence is such an intersectional issue,” said Kelly Choi, 20 of March for Our Lives, the national nonprofit that grew out of the Parkland students’ organizing. “Gun violence is the symptom of other things, like poverty, racism, housing insecurity, domestic violence.” Students Demand Action, a grass-roots network affiliated with Michael Bloomberg’s nonprofit Everytown for Gun Safety, created more than 400 chapters of its own after the Parkland shooting. Its student members are active in Everytown’s voter-registration and other campaign operations, part of a planned $60 million investment in federal and state races this fall.

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