March for Our Lives

Thousands Rally for Stricter Gun Laws in Boston

This year's events follow the mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, and another at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York

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In the wake of multiple mass shootings this year, thousands of people turned out across Massachusetts and the rest of the country Saturday to demand stronger gun control laws.

Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park was filled with adults and children. These children grew up rehearsing active shooter drills.

“My kid put her scissors in her pocket. Because she’s like, ‘I’m going to fight if I have to fight.’ That’s the reality that they have to deal with,” said one mother who attended the event.

Protesters are participating in more than 450 rallies across the country Saturday in an effort to advance “common-sense national and state gun safety restrictions,” organizers said.

Justin Meszler and other organizers of this year's March for Our Lives in Boston say that, while they are moved to act because of tragedy, they are motivated by hope for change.

"We truly believe though that this time is different, that this time can be different because it must be," he said. "And my generation the generation that has grown up with all of this is growing older and we're becoming eligible to vote."

“We had a threat to a middle school. It ended up being an adolescent threatening to come shoot up the school,” Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll said.

“Unless we have national protections, you’re always going to have threats of guns getting to you from other states, so we need one federal law that recognizes common sense protections,” she added.

The first March for Our Lives happened in 2018 in response to the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Meszler was in the 8th grade that year and was one of thousands of people who came together on the Boston Common after the Parkland school shooting.

"For as long as I can remember we’ve had active shooting drills at school," Meszler said. "We are the school shooting generation."

Weeks after the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the state passed major legislation on guns with bipartisan support. Now after mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas and Buffalo, New York, there are renewed calls for action on guns. NBC Miami's Tony Pipitone explains.

They are calling for a national ban on assault rifles, expanding background checks, raising the minimum age to buy a gun to 21, and red flag laws. On the state level, they are supporting legislation targeting the source of guns used in crime and manufacturers of banned weapons.

"It's not as hopeless as people think. And it's not as polarizing as people think," said Ari Kane, another student organizer who says they can't do it alone. "We can come together and make change."

"We sort of have this idea in our heads that it's us against people with guns or all guns are bad. But there are people who we like to think are on the other side of the aisle, or what have you, that are actually wanting to be part of our movement and by including them is how we win," Kane added.

There were hundreds of local marches planned across the country.

Some of the organizations that were involved in Boston's event Saturday include the Massachusetts Teachers Association and the Louis D. Brown Institute -- talking not only about mass shootings but gun violence that affects communities every day.

Ahead of Saturday's events, students at Boston Latin rallied against gun violence in the form of a walkout organized by ninth-grader Hannah Stoll.

'Keep people thinking about gun violence and how we can end it that’s really important," she said.

Students said they’re tired, angry and numb with more than two dozen school shootings this year.

"Everyone has this doomsday mindset sometimes and we’re trying to pull people out of that to try and make change," Romilda Miranda said.

Charlotte Vincent and Jaylin Gemmel, who are with March for Our Lives, point out that even though there hasn't been a mass shooting in Massachusetts recently, there are still daily shootings happening on the streets.

Jim Wallace of the Gun Owners Action League said proposed restrictions are all smoke and mirrors, urging lawmakers to focus the real problem: criminals and people with mental illness.

"What I see Congress once again doing is just making restrictions on lawful people and leaving the dangerous people to walk amongst us," he said.

Some of the things Congress is considering include background checks, raising the age to buy a semiautomatic weapon to 21, banning high capacity magazines and instituting Red Flag requirements.

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