Following the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in early 2018, a group of students took a stand to protest the lack of gun control and legislation in society – a movement that became known as March For Our Lives.
UNC’s March For Our Lives chapter is one of the organization’s many sections fighting for further gun legislation nationwide. UNC sophomore Megan Chen is the chapter's president.
“I just remember being nine years old and hearing about Sandy Hook and being like, ‘This is crazy, I can’t believe this is happening,’ and then growing up, sitting and watching the news and wondering why this is being normalized,” Chen said.
With their last rally in 2018, UNC’s March For Our Lives members made their return to campus last Friday, rallying with the goal of encouraging other students to vote by emphasizing the importance of combating gun violence.
Stressing the importance of voting to college students is a mission of UNC’s chapter this year. With midterm elections around the corner, Chen said the organization would take a stand, especially at the rally, in advocating for the value of each student's vote.
“Go out to the polls, vote, help those around you get registered to vote, show your support for our democracy and be the change you want to see in our country,” Chen said in her opening speech. “There is far too much hate in our nation, but despite this, the students of UNC were able to come together to support this cause, and in turn, support changes within our democracy.”
Impacted by the lack of governmental assistance to gun violence across the nation, Chen said she decided to take on the executive role within the organization to fight for its greater mission on UNC’s campus directly.
“UNC has a really big campus, so I think it's really important to have rallies because we can get people united,” Chen said. “It’s really hard to get everybody together at times but this is something, though, a lot of students are passionate about.”
Luke Diasio, UNC junior and chapter vice president, said he is very adamant about progression in legislation and civic engagement.
“We could see a ban on assault weapon sales," he said."We could see more funding allocated to community gun violence prevention programs. We could see further improvements to the background check system. And we could see real substantial change in America."
Similar to other students' beliefs in the organization, Diasio said he realizes there is a lot of progress to be made, and it's happening slower than it should.
He echoed Chen's statements about the importance of students going to the polls and voting.
“People are going to tell you that your vote doesn't matter, and they’re so wrong. It matters a lot,” Diasio said.
UNC first-year Amie Boakye just joined UNC’s chapter this fall but made a point to speak at the rally to express her concerns regarding the persistence of gun violence.
“Everyone has the right to live without the fear of being shot. Where you live, where you go to school, where you walk, shouldn’t determine if you live,” Boakye said to the rally crowd of over 40 students.
She and other chapter members believe that ending gun violence is a responsibility that other college students and Americans hold.
“It’s in our hands and the hands of the people of this nation to end the toll of gun violence in our country,” she said.
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