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Bay State Students Set to Take a Stand on Gun Violence

Students planning the "March for Our Lives" events say conversations are needed not only about gun laws, but the factors behind gun violence, including mental health and poverty. (Barry Stock/Flickr)
Students planning the "March for Our Lives" events say conversations are needed not only about gun laws, but the factors behind gun violence, including mental health and poverty. (Barry Stock/Flickr)
March 23, 2018

BOSTON – Students in towns big and small in Massachusetts and across the country are "marching for their lives" on Saturday. They'll be joining the survivors of the Parkland, Florida, high school shooting, who will take to the streets of Washington, DC, to urge Congress to pass gun-control measures.

Graciela Mohamedi is a teacher at Rockland High School and organizer of the March for Our Lives in Boston. She says students are taking a stand on an issue that has stalled in Congress for many years.

"There's been blocks upon blocks on getting any sort of gun-safety legislation passed,” she says. “They're sick and tired of it, and using their voices in a really cohesive, inter-sectional, inclusive way, which is really wonderful to watch as a teacher.”

The Boston event starts at Madison Park Technical High School at 11 a.m., and students will march to Boston Common for a rally. Similar events are scheduled across the state, including Northhampton, Plymouth and Springfield.

Opponents of gun-control measures say they aren't effective tools for preventing gun violence and infringe on Americans' Second Amendment rights.

While commonsense gun reform is the main message, Mohamedi notes conversations also are needed about other factors behind gun violence, including mental health and poverty. She contends measures that can make a difference specifically in Massachusetts include Senate Bill 308, that would update the school-funding formula.

"So that schools in Weston and schools in Roxbury have a more equitable distribution of funds and therefore, can hire more school psychologists, more support staff,” she says. “Because when we have those emotional supports in school, violence outside of school is less likely to happen."

According to the March for Our Lives website, more than 800 protest marches are scheduled worldwide. And Mohamedi notes another reason it's so significant is that it truly is a student-led movement.

"I think it's a massive teaching moment for the students,” she says. “They are learning about how to use their voices, they're learning about citizenship, they're learning about how the political process works. And they're really learning about their First Amendment rights."

She adds the work will continue, as students are planning more advocacy events in April and May.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - MA