Dozens of gun control activists rallied Wednesday with a group called March Fourth in Washington, D.C., to honor victims and survivors of mass shootings and then marched to the U.S. Capitol to advocate for the passage of a federal ban on so-called assault weapons.
Survivors and families of victims from the mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas, and Highland Park, Illinois, spoke alongside politicians at a pre-march event just north of the Capitol, where parents of the Uvalde elementary school massacre shared how they’ve coped in the weeks since.
“I promise you — I promise you — you do not want this to happen to you,” said a tearful Angel Garza, who lost his daughter, Amerie, in the Uvalde shooting in May.
Another Uvalde parent, Oscar Orona, said his son Noah was shot in back during the rampage.
“He is not the same young man, and he will never be the same,” Mr. Orona told the crowd.
Before the parents addressed the rally, politicians spoke about what they thought could be done legislatively to prevent the shootings from happening again.
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Rep. Sean Casten, Illinois Democrat, said that protecting the filibuster is “part of the problem.”
Sen. Chris Murphy, Connecticut Democrat, said that the gun violence prevention movement had finally reached the tipping point of being more influential than the gun lobby after 10 years of advocacy.
The movement gained a sense of urgency following the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School that left 20 students and six adult staffers dead in Newtown, Connecticut.
Mr. Murphy said he felt embarrassed for not focusing on the issue until after that shooting in but then sounded a triumphant note in saying Congress had made more progress on gun violence in the last 30 days than it had in 30 years. He led an effort to craft bipartisan gun control legislation that President Biden signed into law last month.
“No child that has been shot is unlucky, this only happens in the United States,” the senator said at the rally. “It’s our choice to be this violent and so it can be our choice to stop it.”
March Fourth members had met Tuesday with Democratic politicians about the need for more gun control laws, including Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island and Sens. Dianne Feinstein of California and Richard Durbin and Tammy Duckworth, both of Illinois.
Mr. Cicilline cowrote with Mrs. Feinstein an assault weapons ban bill that was introduced in March 2021 but has yet to receive a hearing.
“Emotion is what gets things passed in D.C., and we’re going to bring them more emotion than they can handle,” Kitty Brandter, one of march’s organizers, said in a video clip posted to the group’s Instagram page.