Elena Sorrentino Managing Editor
Tues. March 27, the Social Work club held a March for Our Lives sibling event here at Eastern. It took place at 10 a.m. with over 100 students in attendance. The protest began outside of the FAIC with a few quick speeches, and then advanced through campus. Stretching down sidewalks, it was nearly impossible to miss, as the protesters walked from outside of the FAIC, past Hurley, and back up to the library. As they progressed students shouted a variety of chants, including, “No more silence, end gun violence,” “Thoughts and prayers are not enough,” and “NRA, how many kids did you kill today?” This small demonstration was part of a national movement that calls for a stricter gun regulation.
USA Today cites that there have been over 290 school shootings since Sandy Hook, which was just five years ago. Following the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Florida, and the death of 17 more innocent students and educators, the public, and especially the younger generation decided to take a stand. Saturday, March 24, students held a mass protest to bring attention to this important issue. Protesters called for universal background checks and raising the minimum age of purchase to 21. Additionally, they are calling for bans on certain guns and accessories – specifically, those that are used to bring weapons to military-assault capabilities. This is one of the largest misconceptions of the movement. Many believe that the protest aims to ban all guns, which is not true. Protesters simply argue that high capability firearms are not necessary to the general public.
Priscilla Leon, a speaker in the event and the president of the Social Work club, stated, “The solution is not to simply ban all firearms. The solution is not to further stigmatize the mentally ill, and the solution is most certainly not to arm our teachers and build bullet-proof shelters in our classrooms.” She stressed the complication of the issue, and the importance of educating yourself in order to understand it. Once informed on the issues, she insisted that students must go to the polls and vote for candidates who will support your best interests. She brought up a law that many students may not be aware of. Connecticut is one of five states in America that allows citizens to petition for the removal of someone’s guns if you think they pose a danger to themselves or someone else. Knowledge of laws such as this can save lives, and there’s no reason every state shouldn’t have similar legislation.
The protest, and subsequent march across campus, at Eastern was clearly very important to our students. One speaker, Rebecca, referenced Victoria Soto, an alumni from Eastern who died protecting her students at the Sandy Hook shooting. Another student attending the march shared with The Campus Lantern that her cousin’s best friend died at the Stoneman Douglas shooting. Meanwhile, another student referenced having grown up less than an hour away from Parkland, where the Florida shooting took place. Sometimes it is easy to think that when shootings happen across the country they do not affect us, but they affect people around us all of the time, and clearly affect the Eastern community.
Hanna Lavesque, the second speaker from the event, stressed the importance of acting now. She stated, “No matter how important or pressing at hand a problem may be, public attention will come and go. And without a large, strong and united public backing, our window of opportunity to reform gun control will close. This is why we must take these disastrous occurrences of gun violence personally.” It was clear that the students who attended agreed; many referenced going to larger marches in Hartford or New York over the weekend. Everyone that we talked to stressed the importance of change.
Overall, this protest was about visibility and the responsibility of students to make a difference in politics if they do not agree with what is happening now. Getting informed and registering to vote were two of the biggest takeaways that the Social Work club seemed to want people to walk away with. Acting while this issue is still in the media is necessary if change is to be evoked.