March For Our Lives protest March in downtown Fort Myers for stricter gun laws

Reporter: Michelle Alvarez Writer: Paul Dolan
Published: Updated:

Thousands of protesters gathered across the nation on Saturday, including Southwest Florida calling for stricter gun laws after last month’s mass shootings in Uvalde and Buffalo. On Saturday, more than 450 protests happened in cities across the United States and Europe.

In downtown Fort Myers hundreds of people took to the streets advocating for gun reform.

Protester Donna Cressman said, “we’re very concerned about all the violence in our country.”

The nationwide marches were organized by March For Our Lives. They’re a group founded by student survivors of the 2018 Parkland high school shooting.

Protester George Boyer said, “we’re not against the second amendment. We’re not against handguns for protection. We’re not against our rifles for hunting. We’re not against any of that. But we’re against the assault weapon, because of how deadly it is. And there’s not enough information being spread upon that.”

Madison Franz took it upon herself to organize a local march when she saw the tragic Uvalde massacre. She said, “I feel like so often we hear the narrative that people are too young to make a difference, or it’s not their issue. But stepping into this role. Yes, it was hard, but it’s so heartwarming and so fulfilling.”

Franz said the march is all about educating and bringing awareness. She said, “my hope is that anyone who comes here today, regardless of who they are, their perspective, is willing to learn willing to maybe engage in that dialogue, even when it’s uncomfortable.”

Ashley Paris was a high school sophomore when a gunman opened fire at Marjoroe Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland. That shooting ended up killing 17 people.

Paris said, “comparing four years ago to now, there really has not been much change at all.”

When the news broke out of Uvalde that two teachers and 19 students were murdered, her heart broke all over again.

Paris said, “I’m here to bring more awareness, hopefully, bring more regulations in place. But even if that does not happen, at least we can open some eyes, open some ears and just tell people that this is still happening, and it has not stopped.”

The march did remain peaceful the entire time. Paris said she will continue fighting against gun violence to prevent more children from being killed. And from living with the lifelong trauma that comes with surviving a mass shooting.

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