Thousands of people gathered at Kiley Gardens in Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park on March 24 as part of a national protest against gun violence called March For Our Lives.
The march comes as a response to the February 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 dead. Over 700 March For Our Lives protests happened worldwide, with about 800,000 people marching in Washington, D.C., alone.
According to the March For Our Lives website, its primary demands include universal background checks, a searchable database for the ATF and the ban of high-capacity magazines and assault weapons.
Susana Matta Valdivieso, a 17-year-old student from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, spoke at the Tampa march.
“We are all here because we support this movement, this revolution that will not end until our cities, our towns, our workplaces, our schools and our nation is safe,” Matta Valdivieso said. “As citizens of the U.S. we depend on our Congress to make laws and policies to keep us safe. But when they fail to do so, it is our duty to take action.”
Matta Valdivieso isn’t the only student worried about her safety. Sickles High School student Elizabeth Collins is also concerned about the possibility of gun violence at school.
“Every day I come to school and I worry that someone is going to come and shoot us,” said Collins. “It’s a possibility for every person in America that someone is going to kill you because of a gun, because there are no gun laws. Every politician has a job to protect the people, and they’re not doing anything.”
Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn also spoke at the march in support of the protest. He called on people to be more politically active to help achieve their goals.
“If you want bump stocks banned, then I need you,” said Buckhorn. “If you want assault weapons out of the hands of people who don’t deserve them or don’t need them, I need you, so march on. If you want a waiting period, if you want background checks, then I need you, so march on.”
Brianna Aguasvivas, another student from Sickles High School, agrees that young people will be the ones to make a difference. He also believes that the recent gun violence in schools will lead to an increase in voter registration.
“Politicians should be scared because there’s a lot of kids who are either 18 or just under 18 that by the next election will be registered to vote,” said Aguasvivas. “We will be voting them out.”
The next step, according to the March For Our Lives committee, is to register people to vote so that they can vote for candidates who support stricter gun control.
For more information about the March For Our Lives movement, visit: https://marchforourlives.com/home/.