Peralta Community College District's Only Student-Run Publication
Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

    What took us so long to March For Our Lives?

    Demonstrations such as these should have taken place many years ago

    by Alice Robinson

    Alice Robinson

    At the March for Our Lives rally in San Francisco March 24, it wasn’t just that speaker after speaker shared personal stories of losing loved ones or friends, or pointed out the inaction of politicians and attendees. It wasn’t just the anger directed at the National Rifle Association gun lobby that I waited twenty years to hear.

    What moved me close to tears was hearing a string of speakers recall mass shootings.

    As presenters spoke of each incident, including Columbine High School in 1999 and the 2012 theater shooting in Aurora, Colo., the weight of remembrance grew heavier.

    My prism of experience didn’t help me become less emotional. I was a college senior when Columbine happened. After the shock of hearing that 13 people lost their lives wore off, I thought, no way would something that terrible ever happen again. I cried at the Saturday rally because I remembered the sadness and incredible frustration I felt after each mass shooting. The past shootings seemed more raw.

    But during the gathering, something else nagged. I kept returning to how we need to see the bigger picture. Americans are now protesting to spark tougher gun laws and to attempt to weaken the NRA and its influence. Yet gun violence in all its forms isn’t a new occurrence. We shouldn’t insulate ourselves. While we’ve all been humming along in our days and years, gun violence hasn’t taken a rest.

    I was overwhelmed as I looked up mass shootings for this column. Mass shootings, like the 1991 tragedy in a Tex. Luby’s restaurant that resulted in 23 deaths according to the Killeen Daily Herald’s site, have been happening for decades.

    So, while some of us “marched for our lives,” we should also ask, what took us so long?

    I don’t have the answer, but I am encouraged by bright spots in my day like Noah Howard, 16. As I was straining to see the speakers who looked like figurines, Howard was next to me. Howard, who carried a stack of anti-gun pamphlets he helped write, said the 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting greatly affected him.

    He said he remembers feelings of hopelessness at the time. “I almost felt so numb,” he said. But, Howard said he’s recouped some of his hope, and said he thinks that his generation “can be the one to make the change.”

    The marchers close to me finished their trek. Some of the fervor began to die down. Near the Ferry Building, I saw Shane Zaldivar, a “pop-up drag queen,” according to a sign, lip-syncing to the “Sound of Music” soundtrack. The carefree music created a briefly surreal atmosphere, though we’d been walking to protest horrific events.

    As people spontaneously danced with Zaldivar, smiled, and laughed, the words, “How do you hold a moonbeam in your hand?” and “how do you catch a cloud and pin it down?” filled the air. Suddenly, I thought of a connection between the lyrics and our country’s situation.

    The problem of gun violence falls into a similar category of difficulty.
    Traveling home, I knew I’d spent my day the right way, with people like Tonya Burritt-Smith of Sacramento. She said decisively that a “’long-held belief” that we need firmer gun laws brought her to the march.

    Then Burritt-Smith echoed how I felt. “I could go on,” she paused. “But then I might get mad.”


    Alice Robinson is a Tower staff writer.

    About the Contributor
    Wen Li, Staff Writer
    Wen W. Li a returning student at Laney College. He was born in China and grew up in Oakland, California. He speaks three languages: Cantonese, Japanese, and English. His favorite sport is real football (soccer), and he also loves most Japanese foods and J-pop culture. Li is currently a reporter for Laney Tower, and he is always passionate about writing and reading. Although he is interested in education and social issues right now, he also wants to report about digital entertainment and scientific study. Li always has a high interest in child development, health psychology, and clinical psychology because he wants to know how the environment can influence one’s personality. His dream is to work for scientific journal publications or work as an international correspondent that travels around the world.
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