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March for Our Lives

March 29, 2018

 

BRYN YOUNG
News Editor | bjy001@latech.edu

 

Members of Louisiana Tech’s College Democrats joined the community in supporting gun
reform efforts. – Photo by Bryn Young

 

On March 24, people across the nation marched for gun reform and in protest of the current state of gun laws in the United States. As marchers descended on Washington, New York and Los Angeles, a group of protesters took to the Ruston Civic Center with chants and speeches in support of those larger events and the ideas they voiced.

 

The event consisted of speeches from local students and event organizers as well as a march around the Civic Center, voter registration and a remembrance of the Parkland victims. The Ruston March for Our Lives was organized by Judith Howard and the Ruston chapter of Moms Demand Action. Howard said she felt the need to do something about gun violence and called her friends to action.

 

“I just asked a couple of my friends if they could help me put this together,” Howard said. “I just thought, ‘I can’t not do something.’ I had to do something.”

 

Howard said she thinks the event was successful at getting their message out as well as showing like-minded citizens in the community they are not alone. She hopes people understand they need to speak to their legislators and strive for change with their votes.

 

“I hope people who attended got the message that you have to be in touch with your congressmen,” she said. “They have to hear from you because they are always going to hear from the other side. There is so much money in politics and it’s easy to get cynical and lose hope that we can do anything to change the situation; but, there are more people than there are lobbyists and if people vote it will make a difference.”

 

Howard said she is hopeful to see a movement like March for Our Lives gain traction so quickly considering it is only about a month old. She said she thinks it is wonderful that students are leading the way a discussion like gun violence.

 

“I think it is mind-boggling,” she said. “Major change usually occurs at such a snail’s pace and this has just been at warp-speed. It’s amazing. I just hope that young people don’t get frustrated if major change doesn’t happen really quickly. I don’t want them to give up.”

 

Speakers from both Ruston High School and Louisiana Tech spoke to the crowd about their thoughts on gun violence and what needed to change. Nik Durman, Tech student and College Democrat member, spoke to those gathered and led chants during the march around the Civic Center. During his speech, Durman spoke of the laws governing guns and the hope that future youth will not have to worry about the threat of gun violence in schools and on the street.

 

“Now, some of our fellow Americans believe their right to own a gun is necessary in order to protect themselves and the lives of the ones they love,” Durman said. “Let me make clear, we have no quarrel with these law-abiding citizens. For their unease and apprehension is both reasonable and understandable in these tumultuous times. Yet the leisurely laws governing firearms in this country have allowed for individual with insidious intent to inflict pain and suffering amongst once peaceful communities, Parkland among them.”

 

Durman said he found the event important and invigorating as it showed the liberal population of Ruston there are others in the community who think like them as well as helping others get involved in politics.

 

“It was invigorating, solemn and unifying,” he said. “It was the first step in hopefully many to establish a liberal and democratic presence in the city of Ruston. The jury is still out on if we were successful on being heard. As far as the amount of people that showed up and if the speeches, I’d it was successful. One extra person who was not engaged in political activism is a victory.”

 

Durman expressed he wished there were more pro-gun people at the rally so there would be an actual discussion on the issues.

 

“I was disappointed that more people didn’t show up from the other side of the aisle,” he said. “Fortunately there were at least two guys there that called me out on at least one detail of my beliefs. I’m going to go back and research it, see if the details hold up and if not then revise my beliefs. That’s what the other side is for. If just we are here than it is a bunch of people with the same beliefs talking to each other.”

 

One of those two was Ruston resident Brad West, who held a sign saying “pro guns and facts” during the march. He said he thought the March for Our Lives was a good thing but was misguided and ill-informed.

 

“It’s fine, I think it’s misguided,” West said. “(It’s) a lot of people that don’t know a lot about guns. They may have grown up around them but they do not go and purchase a gun and see what the background check process is like.”

 

West believes that current gun laws being passed are not going to stop gun violence and are too vague in most instances.

 

“Banning assault rifles, you cannot do that because it’s too vague,” West said. “Most of the laws that people want to pass now for common sense gun control want to get rid of ARs, AKs and fully automatic weapons. You cannot get those. Then people go to semi-automatics. Most pistols are semi-automatic. Most gun crime is committed with a pistol. Saying that the assault rifles are the issue. It’s not the issue. The tool is not the issue. If you are going to get a gun illegally, you’re going to get it illegally.”

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