On Saturday 24 March, over 300 protestors gathered outside the US Consulate building in Regent Terrace in support of tighter gun control measures in the United States.
In the aftermath of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on 14 February, the organisation ‘Never Again MSD’ was created by around twenty of its survivors to advocate for tighter gun restrictions to prevent further gun violence.
The Edinburgh march was one of over 800 sibling marches taking place worldwide. The main march saw crowds of 200,000 to 800,000 taking the streets of Washington D.C, heading down Pennsylvania Avenue towards the White House.
Outside the US Consulate in Edinburgh, family members of the victims of the Dunblane massacre in 1996 told how gun violence had taken away the lives of their loved ones, and also spoke of their support for the current gun control movement.
The Dunblane school massacre took place at Dunblane Primary School, near Stirling, and took the lives of 16 children and 1 teacher. In response, the Firearms Act of 1996 and the Firearms Act of 1997 were passed. These banned the possession of all cartridge ammunition handguns in England, Scotland and Wales. Since 1996, there have been zero school shootings in the UK. That is compared to the 246 school shootings since 1996 in the United States. 17 school shootings have already happened in the three months of 2018.
During the protest, speakers read out the names of politicians that have accepted monetary donations from the National Rifle Association (NRA), which elicited shouts of ‘shame on you’ from the crowd. The names of Marco Rubio, Senator of Florida, and President Trump provoked particularly loud ‘boos’ and ‘hisses.’ Many in the crowd held signs and placards while the female drumming group, Sheboom, filled the air with defiant thuds and bangs.
This march collected £620 for the Dunblane No Guns and the Stoneman Douglas Victims’ Fund.
Across the United States, participation at the March for Our Lives marches are estimated to have been between 1.2 million and 2 million people, making it one of the largest protests in US history. Additionally, the ‘Enough! National School Walkout’ took place earlier in the month. Students from across the country walked out of class for seventeen minutes in honour of the seventeen victims.
The United States has the highest rates for gun ownership and gun homicide, and incidents of mass shootings seem to be an American epidemic. Several gun control legislations have been defeated, such as legislation calling for the ban of semi-automatic weapons in the wake of the Sandy Hook shootings, where twenty children between the age of 6 and 7 as well as 6 teachers were killed.
The politicians who have accepted money from the NRA, and have been lenient on gun control, have highlighted the need for them to be voted out to achieve the passage of effective legislation.
US citizens currently studying in Edinburgh, are advised to be registered to vote to receive an absentee ballot.
Visit votefromabroad.org to register to vote.
Image: Lydia Willcocks