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Thousands of Americans have joined protests across the country demanding tighter gun control after a spate of deadly mass shootings.
“Enough is enough,” District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser told the second March for Our Lives rally in Washington DC which was attended by around 30,000 people.
“I speak as a mayor, a mom, and I speak for millions of Americans and America’s mayors who are demanding that Congress do its job. And its job is to protect us, to protect our children from gun violence.”
Speaker after speaker in Washington called on senators, who are seen as a major impediment to legislation, to act or face being voted out of office, especially given the shock to the nation’s conscience after 19 children and two teachers were killed May 24 at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde.
“If our government can’t do anything to stop 19 kids from being killed and slaughtered in their own school, and decapitated, it’s time to change who is in government,” said David Hogg, a survivor of the 2018 shooting that killed 17 students and staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
A co-founder of the March For Our Lives organization that was created after that shooting and held its first rally in Washington not long afterward, Hogg led the crowd in chants of “Vote them out.”
President Joe Biden, who was in California when the Washington rally began, said his message to demonstrators was “keep marching” and added that he is “mildly optimistic” about legislative negotiations to address gun violence.
Biden recently delivered an impassioned address to the nation in which he called for several steps, including raising the age limit for buying assault-style weapons.
Survivors of mass shootings and other incidents of gun violence have lobbied legislators and testified on Capitol Hill this week.
Among them was Miah Cerrillo, an 11-year-old girl who survived the shooting at Robb Elementary in Texas.
She described for lawmakers how she covered herself with a dead classmate’s blood to avoid being shot.
The House has passed bills to raise the age limit to buy semi-automatic weapons and establish federal “red flag” laws.
A bipartisan group of senators had hoped to reach agreement this week on a framework for addressing the issue and held talks Friday, but no deal was announced.