CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – Shouts could be heard around the country Sunday during national ‘March for our Lives’ rallies.
It comes on the same day lawmakers announced bipartisan gun safety legislation, which includes mental health resources, scrutiny for gun buyers under 21, and allows states to implement red flag laws.
Two of those rallies happened in Uptown Charlotte and Salisbury. Hundreds denounced simple ‘thoughts and prayers’ and demanded change.
“We’ve had enough. No more thoughts and prayers. We need action now,” said Moms Demand Action member Laura Bahmanyar.
“I’m here to advocate for my future and my fellow classmates, and to say that I don’t want to spend my time worrying about guns when I should be worried about planning my future,” said 14-year-old Sophia Smith.
The nationwide rallies were organized by students in the wake of more than 260 mass shootings so far this year (according to GunViolenceArchive.org), including 21 students and teachers in Uvalde, TX, and 10 black people at a grocery store in Buffalo, NY.
Some marchers were as young as elementary and middle school students.
“You don’t think it’s going to happen to you until on the intercom they’re saying we’re going into lockdown,” said 14-year-old Toni Louis.
At Sunday’s rally at First Ward Park, hundreds showed up to make their voices heard. Among them was Charlotte City Councilman Malcolm Graham, whose sister was killed in the 2015 shooting at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston.
“What is right is making sure the second amendment is not absolute. It doesn’t mean you can have an AK-47, where you can kill over 21 folks in Texas. It doesn’t mean you can go to a grocery store and gun down 12 African Americans in Buffalo, or go into a church and kill my sister, Cynthia Graham Hurd, who was at bible study,” he said.
In Salisbury, protesters in front of the Rowan County Government Center asked legislators for what they called ‘sensible gun legislation.’
“I keep always hearing, ‘I need an assault rifle for home protection or for hunting.’ And what I said in front of the crowd is that my grandfathers and my uncles were avid hunters. They never had to go into the field with an assault rifle to go after a duck or a deer,” said retired teacher David Clark.
Several state politicians also attended the local rallies, including State Representative Alma Adams and State Senator Jeff Jackson.
“I am all for folks who want to make a better emphasis on mental healthcare and get more school psychologists, get more counselors. We’re all for that. That can’t be the entire conversation. At some point, you simply have to confront the fact that guns play an enormous role in school shootings,” said Sen. Jackson.
March For Our Lives began in 2018 following a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL which took the lives of 17 people.