Gun violence needs to end. That was the message from students, teachers, adults, local leaders, and politicians at the Moms Demand Action meeting on February 19th at George Mason High School. Hundreds of people gathered to show their solidarity with the 17 victims in Parkland, Florida, after the recent school shooting at Douglas High School.
Starting off the event, attendees wrote on paper hearts outside the Auxiliary Gym, preaching messages of love, hope, and compassion. Soon thereafter, they transitioned into the Mason Cafe, where speakers, including the daughter of a victim of gun violence in Alexandria, a survivor from the Columbine shooting, Virginia Representative Don Beyer, Falls Church City Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Peter Noonan, a representative from the Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center, and members of the Moms Demand Action group spoke for change and gun reform.
Beyer’s speech repeatedly pushed for significant gun reform, citing numerous facts and studies in previous years.
“Let me give you some statistics. In 2016, more than 39,000 Americans were killed by guns: 96 Americans a day, 7 of them children. Every month, 50 women are killed by their husbands or their boyfriends. And last year, more than 23,000 Americans took their own life with a gun… Do the math. Each one of us is expected to live at least 80 years, right? That means three million Americans will die by gun in our lifetimes. That’s five times all the combat deaths in every U.S. war put together. That’s more than the population of 19 different states.”
The climax of the event, a candlelit vigil, followed shortly after that. With 400 candles available, all of which were used, attendees braved the cold honoring the victims of the Parkland shooting and promising to fight for gun reform.
The message in Falls Church last Monday night was that the tragedy that happened in Florida would be the last straw. The school shooting in Florida is not just a reminder of horrific mass shootings, but also of the gun violence that affects families across the country every day. Victims of the Parkland shooting are planning a “March for our Lives” rally in Washington, D.C., on March 24th, 2018, and expect upwards of 500,000 attendees.