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Four years ago, thousands of young people and adults flooded downtown San Antonio streets demanding gun reform in the wake of the mass killing at Sutherland Springs and a high school in Parkland, Florida. It was part of a national movement for gun reform.
Today, after a shooter killed 19 young schoolchildren and two teachers in Uvalde, the group is mobilizing again for a march this Saturday with many of the same demands. Deceleration spoke with Frank, a march organizer and parent to three children, who asked to be identified by his first name only due to security concerns.
[UPDATE: You can see interviews with marchers and speeches here and here. Short conversation with Texas state Senator Roland Gutierrez, who reps Uvalde, here.]
Deceleration: Tell me about yourself and what motivated you to respond to this event at this time?
Frank: I was incredibly motivated by the march in 2018, by this generation, to get involved. I’m a little outside of the typical age demographic for a March for Our Lives organizer. I am indebted to that generation to take action. I’ve got children myself. A large part of my motivation is the inaction over the past four years and even longer. San Antonio is only within 45 minutes from two of the worst mass murders in our nation’s history. Uvalde was in a school, but Sutherland Springs was in a place of worship. No place in our society is safe and we don’t want to accept that as the norm.
March for Our Lives spun out of a youth movement.
It did in 2018. And because of the courage that that generation posed more are getting involved. I’ve been an organizer for about 11 days and I want to let our broader community know that they are not alone—in calling BS on the status quo as it relates to the ease of gun access in our country. So far the response has been phenomenal in that regard.
And you gather at Milam Park/Plaza de Zacate and march to City Hall, a short distance. But this is a heat advisory day, I’m sure.
We selected that location for a combination of reasons. It’s in the heart of San Antonio, pretty good parking, a public space, City Hall is where municipal law gets enacted. So we want to inspire action at a nation, state, and even a local level.
Are there hard demands or is this more about consciousness raising?
There are three primary pieces of action that have broad appeal across the country and even within our own community. They are universal background checks, red-flag laws, and AR-15 reform. Those are the three primary actions that we are pushing for today. Ultimately the goal is that we don’t accept gun violence as the norm in our world at all but in the near term this is our focus.
Those not only poll well nationally, but they poll well in our own community. They just make sense. Whether you purchase a gun privately, at a gun show, or federally, there should be a common system to identify issues and the universal background checks makes sense.
The shooting in Uvalde, there were many people who raised concerns in hindsight about the shooter but there was nowhere to take those concerns. There was no red-flag law, no red-flag process. In addition to that, that shooter used the mass murderer weapon of choice: the AR-15, that has badly mutilated the bodies of children to the point they can’t be identified. That [shooter] was only 18 years old.
I caught a headline there was a 13-year-old killed by a local police officer, I guess last night. I’m still getting caught up on the news. That said, I know there’s interest in seeing this campaign maybe broadened. How did you focus on these three elements? Was that a national-level decision?
The answer is both. We feel really confident in those three items in their popularity here in San Antonio.
So local groups are able to develop and carry a message that they feel speaks most for the people that they are marching with?
Are you committed to doing the work going forward to get there? How would you describe your level of commitment and those you are working with?
What I can speak to today is that we need action and not speeches and not only thinking about those that we’ve lost and praying for them. Those are wonderful but we can also act as well. So not let politicians wait us out. We don’t want to let tragedies at schools, grocery stories, churches, day cares run their course and have them wait us out. So we’re here as long as we need to be. My hope is that we don’t have to conduct more marches like this, that we can enact common sense reform.
You’ve got a big barrier in front of you with the governor and some of these others. Have you received encouragement from any elected officers.
We have received support from elected officials locally, from state representatives and state senators, from the surrounding area. There are representatives who have been pushing for commonsense reform. And what we’re imploring is that those who have blocked commonsense gun legislation is to join us. To join their constituents in these primary items that have broad appeal.
‘Hey! Hey! Ho! Ho! The NRA has got to go!’
Needing inspiration? Here’s a video of a large crowd marching four years ago.
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