A young boy holds onto his mom during a March For Our Lives rally against gun violence on the National Mall in Washington D.C. on Saturday. Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI | License Photo
June 11 (UPI) -- Tens of thousands rallied in March for Our Lives protests against gun violence in Washington, D.C., and other locations across the country Saturday.
People wore rain slickers and T-shirts as they gathered in the rain near the Washington Monument around noon to demand action against the nation's epidemic of gun violence, according to The Washington Post.
"This is not a moment," the group said in a Twitter post on Saturday afternoon. "This is a movement."
March for Our Lives said that 40,000 showed up in the rain and that the event was live-streamed on the group's Facebook page.
"Everyday shootings are everyday problems," said Trevon Bosley, a board member of March for Our Lives. He urged the crowd to chant with him "so the people in Congress understand these are real lives."
Bosley, from the southside of Chicago, said he has buried some friends and family members to gun violence. He said he was tired of some officials and people misrepresenting the demands of the community, and he wanted to clarify a few things.
"People who know nothing about Chicago love to say 'Chicago has strict gun laws, what do mass shootings have to do with Chicago?'" Bosley said.
"Sixty percent of guns recovered from Chicago crime scenes come from out of state, which means the so-called strict gun laws we supposedly have mean nothing if the states around us have lax gun laws."
Bosley added that mass shootings "occur often in Chicago" and that violence in the Windy City is wrongly represented as always being gang-related or involving those who people think "deserve to die" before he ran down a list of some of the city's gun violence victims.
He began the list with his cousin, Vincent Avant, who was shot dead while sitting in a car, followed by Blair Holt who was shot and killed on a bus while on his way home from school and Deonte Smith who was shot and killed at a block party.
Bosley continued with Matthew Rogers Jr., who was shot and killed leaving a club, and LaNiyah Murphy who was shot and killed in a parked car -- as well as Hadiya Pendleton, who was shot in a park. He called Murphy "a brave youth leader" against gun violence at Saint Sabina Church.
He ended the list by remembering the death of his brother, 18-year-old Terrell Bosley, who was killed in a church in 2006 while getting ready for band rehearsal.
"Contrary to what many media outlets and officials want you to believe these deaths were not due to anyone doing anything wrong, but people living their lives, everyday, just like you do," Bosley said.
He said he was also concerned about other places where the COVID-19 pandemic, poverty and racism have worsened the problem of gun violence.
"Places where all lives supposedly matter, but Black and brown lives are taken on a daily basis. This pandemic did nothing more than rip off the sheets of lies and broken promises covering the problems of gun violence across America," Bosley said.
"After you leave this march, do not go back in your communities and relax, people are dying everyday. There is work to be done."
Hundreds of marches and events were also held across the country, including in New York City, Milwaukee, Orlando and Los Angeles.
The protest is a successor to the first "March for Our Lives" rally organized by survivors of the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., which left 17 people dead. That rally brought hundreds of thousands to the nation's capital to demand legislative action to end gun violence.
"A ban on assault weapons, high-capacity magazines and other weapons of war," are among the group's legislative policy priorities, along with "policies to disarm gun owners who pose a harm risk; and a national gun buy-back program," the group's website shows.
The group also listed on its website "gun glorification," "political apathy and corruption," "armed [white] supremacy," "poverty" and the "national mental health crisis," as issues fueling the problem.
This year organizers focused on holding smaller marches at an estimated 300 locations.
"We want to make sure that this work is happening across the country," Daud Mumin, co-chairman of the march's board of directors and a recent graduate of Westminster College in Salt Lake City told CBS News. "This is not just about D.C., it's not just about senators."
The protest comes in the wake of the elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, that killed 19 children and two teachers, and other mass shootings, such as the racially motivated shooting at a grocery store in Buffalo, N.Y., that killed 10 people.
It also comes amid recent report of guns surpassing crashes as leading cause of death among U.S. children and teens.
Among the other speakers were March for Our Lives co-founder David Hogg and X Gonzalez, who survived the Parkland massacre, as well as Garnell Whitfield, Jr. -- the son of a victim of the recent Buffalo supermarket shooting.
"I'm here because I don't want anybody to live this nightmare anymore, no matter your politics, no one should," Hogg said. "I'm here because I love this country, and for it to function, we need to understand that rights are power and with power comes responsibility."
Hogg said that all Americans "have a right to not be shot" and a "right to safety."
"Nowhere in the constitution is unrestricted access to weapons of war a guaranteed right," Hogg said.
"We've seen the damage that AR-15s do when we look at the innocent children of Uvalde, tiny coffins horrify us, tiny coffins filled with small, mutilated and decapitated bodies. That should fill us with rage and demands for change, not endless debates."
He added that it's time to vote elected officials out of office if they do nothing about what happened to the children in the Uvalde shooting.
Hogg also said that there has been 150 pieces of legislation against gun violence since 2018.
One accomplishment, he said, was raising the minimum age at which individuals could legally buy firearms to 21 in Florida, in a Republican-led state legislature, where they were told they never would be able to.
"If we did that in Tallahassee, we can do it on Capitol Hill, and in our Senate, right now," he said.
Hogg also said there's been other progress, including passing a "red flag" law in Florida, which allows authorities to strip deadly weapons from people who pose a danger to themselves or others, required background checks in Virginia, assault weapons ban in Boulder, Colo., and increased voter turnout.
He said that he hears that the laws aren't working, but he's seen that they do.
"My mother got a death threat that said 'F with the NRA and you will be DOA'," he said, without using the full expletive used in the threat. He added that law enforcement used the 'red flag' law that we created to disarm the individual who threatened to kill her.
"That law saved me from maybe having to bury my own mother, these laws work," he added.
Other speakers included Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., who is also an activist and community organizer against gun violence, as well as Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, and Yolanda King -- the granddaughter of Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King.
"Enough is enough," King said. "Many of us have been wearing our marching shoes for years, but today we're telling our Congress, we're telling the gun lobby, and we're telling the world, this time is different. This time is different because we've had enough."
Since the Parkland shooting, more than 115,000 students have been exposed to gun violence in K-12 schools during regular hours, according to The Washington Post database.
The House passed a package of firearm restrictions Wednesday, including raising the minimum age of purchasing semi-automatic rifles from 18 to 21 years old. It now faces the Senate, where it will need at least 10 Republicans to support it before reaching the president's desk.
The House vote followed congressional testimony from survivors of the Uvalde shooting, including a fourth-grader who said she covered herself in blood from another student and pretended to be dead as the gunman killed most of her classmates and a teacher.