Students from the Georgetown chapter of March for Our Lives joined hundreds of demonstrators outside the Supreme Court to advocate for gun control reform Dec. 2.
The case, filed by the National Rifle Association, a gun rights lobbying group, claims that a New York City ban on transporting handguns outside city limits is unconstitutional, according to a Supreme Court report. Gun control activists worry a victory for the NRA will establish an impregnable legal barrier for future gun control efforts, according to CNBC. The city eliminated the law after the court agreed to hear the case.
MFOL GU partnered with other gun control advocacy groups at the rally Monday, including Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence.
The lawsuit, pushed to the Supreme Court by the NRA, represents a desperate effort to prevent gun control legislation, according to Chris Stauffer (SFS ’22), co-chair of MFOL GU and co-state director of MFOL DC.
“The NRA knows that it can no longer beat the gun violence prevention movement at the ballot box — just look at the 2018 midterm elections — so it has turned to the courts as a last-ditch effort to protect the interests of the gun lobby,” Stauffer wrote in an email to The Hoya.
The rally Monday displayed solidarity among youth activists as they pushed for reform, Stauffer wrote.
“It was important for students to rally today to show the courts, and our country, that we are demanding change, and we will not stop until that happens,” Stauffer wrote.
Frequent and deadly gun violence has propelled gun control to the forefront of domestic political discourse in the past decade. Students created the MFOL movement after a former student murdered 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.
Chronic gun violence and powerful student activism inspired Stauffer to join MFOL, according to Stauffer.
“I saw the gun violence that was happening across our country and I needed to do something about it,” Stauffer wrote. “Seeing the movement that came out of the tragedy that happened in Parkland — that was led by young people — inspired me to take action.”
Stauffer and Margaret Gleason (COL ’22) established the Georgetown chapter of MFOL in 2018. Gleason, the second co-chair at MFOL GU, become involved in MFOL when gun violence impacted her own community, she wrote in an email to The Hoya.
“The tipping point was when a fellow exchange student on my study abroad program was killed in the Santa Fe High School massacre in 2017,” Gleason wrote. “I was already determined to do something, but once my community was touched, I knew I had to do whatever it takes.”
Young activists often struggle to gain legitimacy and make their voices heard, according to Stauffer.
“Some of the challenges that I have faced as the Co-Chair of MFOL GU. and the Co-State Director of MFOL DC, is simply getting people to take young people seriously,” Stauffer wrote. “On so many occasions, staffers from the offices of elected officials will underestimate, or condescend, the MFOL members that go to meet with them.”
Lawmakers stood alongside activists and survivors of school shootings at the protest. Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), Congressman Anthony Brown (D-Md.) and Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) each addressed the crowd of demonstrators.
The case being analyzed could have lasting implications for gun control policy, according to Brown.
“The Supreme Court is hearing arguments that could impact common sense gun safety measures: policies like stopping domestic abusers from possessing guns, red flag laws that keep guns out of the hands of people who pose a threat to themselves or others, and banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines,” Brown wrote in an email to The Hoya.
Gun control measures are necessary and reasonable steps to improving safety in American neighborhoods, according to Connolly.
“Yesterday, I was proud to stand with gun safety advocates to demand responsible gun control,” Connolly wrote in an email to The Hoya. “Commonsense proposals like reinstating the assault weapons ban, mandating universal background checks, and closing the gun show loophole are a first step in making our communities safer.”