March for Our Lives brings out cross-section of Tallahassee
By Christina Hunter
With signs held high and chants filling the air, people from all walks of life marched for a change.
Protestors came in support of a nation-wide gun protest led by students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where a gunman took the lives of 17 students last month. Thousands joined the survivors on the Mall in Washington, D.C., for what’s now known as March For Our Lives.
They have been on a campaign against gun violence and gun sale since the Feb. 14 shooting.
Like in many cities around the country, hundreds turned out this past Saturday in Tallahassee.
Kathy Belovary, a former professor at Keiser University, attended to join the push for gun law reform. She clearly was against teachers carrying firearms in their classrooms, an option that some politicians have been proposing.
“Guns have no place in a classroom,” said Belovary, holding back tears. “We shouldn’t have to be cops. We’re there to educate. We’re there to inspire (and) we’re there to make kids feel safe by showing them empathy and support.”
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School alumni Mathew Harris was among the protestors at the Capitol. He appealed for young people to vote for candidates who would support their cause.
“Comprehensive gun reform begins and ends with all of us,” he said. “We must vote for candidates who will keep weapons of war off the street. And take practical steps in keeping our schools safe.
“We have to strengthen background checks, close legal loop holes, and so-called straw purposes, which allows those unable to buy again to do so in others’ name.”
Harris’ sister Jenna, who is a sophomore at Stoneman Douglas, attended the march in Washington, D.C.
Mayor Andrew Gillum, a candidate for Florida governor, was empathetic in his support of the students.
“We saw our legislators take to microphones and to the televisions, telling us what it is they were going to do to try to make our community safer,” Gillum said. “I applaud them in taking some action. But I also want to call out the steps they missed.
“They missed the opportunity to close the gun show loop hole in this state. The missed an opportunity to strengthen background checks in this state. They missed the opportunity to outlaw assault weapons in the state of Florida.”
The March For Our Lives event took place just a few weeks following a pro-gun rally where marchers declared their rights in the Second Amendment.
“I think we’ve had enough,” said Dawn Griffin, a supporter of the students. “I was always raised with a deep respect for guns and my family has had guns (but) we learned to use them responsibly.
“The types of weapons we’re trying to ban you don’t use for hunting. You use to kill.”