Thousands March to Address Gun Violence in America
By Andrea Lopez-Villafaña
Thousands of people in San Diego marched through the streets of Downtown to send the message that they will no longer stand for gun violence in schools and in America.
The student-led protest March for Our Lives San Diego addressed loopholes in background checks and the need to ban the sale of certain weapons, such as the AR-15 rifle and high-capacity ammunition magazines.
This and hundreds of protests were held nationwide in response to the Parkland, Florida, high school shooting where 17 people lost their lives in February.
According to San Diego Police, an estimated 5,000 to 10,000 individuals met at the San Diego Waterfront Park and marched to call for a change in gun laws on Saturday, March 24.
Speakers emphasized that there will be change as a result of more young people becoming involved through voting for those who support gun control laws.
Natasha Salgado, political science student at the University of San Diego and one of the organizers of the event, spoke to La Prensa San Diego prior to the event and shared that at the local level they want politicians to know that if they receive money from the National Rifle Association, they will not have their support.
Salgado stood in front of the crowd and called on elected officials to act on the demands of constituents.
Several speakers shared their personal fears and their demand for those in power to bring about change not only in gun violence related to mass shootings but also with gun violence in underserved communities and at the hands of police officers.
Arlene Parra, a teacher in San Diego County, said that as a college student she worried what she would do in the event that she was a victim of a school shooting, but as an educator now she is worried for the safety of her students.
She shared with the crowd that she questions how she could protect her students during a school shooting.
“I’ve been working in education for three years now and not a day goes by that I don’t think about those questions,” Parra said. “Not a day goes by that I don’t think about how I would take a bullet for any one of my students.”
Following the shooting in Parkland, President Donald Trump suggested that teachers should be armed and trained to protect their students during school shootings, however, teachers at the protest on Saturday like Parra were adamant that, that is not the solution.
Some counter-protesters and gun rights advocates attended Saturday’s march and one stood in the middle of the group, however, the protest remained peaceful.
Hector Enriquez, a student at Lincoln High School, shared with the crowd that he respects the second amendment but is frustrated with the lack of action by the government to protect students.
He said that he hopes a change will come since nothing was done following the school walkouts and then another shooting was reported in Maryland.
On March 14, exactly one month since the Parkland shooting, students nationwide and in San Diego County walked out of class to raise awareness to gun violence and to honor those who died during the shooting.
However, six days following the walkouts, another shooting in Maryland claimed the lives of three high school students, including the shooter.
For Enriquez, the possibility of having a shooter at his school is something that causes him to have nightmares, but he has decided to speak up, he said.
“I will not wait until it is my school that suffers the terrible events that happened at Columbine, Sandy Hook, Santa Monica, Parkland, or any other of the many more schools to raise my voice and call out the government,” Enriquez said.
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