The March for Our Lives walk was one of many held across the nation on Saturday.
The large crowd gathered at Riverside Park in New Smyrna Beach was a mix of people — from students to teachers to members of local political groups — from around Volusia County and beyond but all with the same message to end gun violence and create a safer environment for students.
On Saturday, March 24, New Smyrna Beach High School students gathered together for a rally and two-mile March for Our Lives walk alongside members of multiple organizations, including Indivisible United Florida, the Port Orange Democratic Club and United Church of Christ.
However, the March for Our Lives movement was not limited to Central Florida. Individuals throughout the U.S. have been planning to participate in the demonstration on the same day with one of the largest protests being held in Washington D.C.
The rally was organized after the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland that left 17 people dead.
“We need to do something to stop these shootings in schools and get military-style weapons off the streets because they are murder weapons,” Becky Berman, Indivisible United Florida, 6th District, co-leader, said. “We want our politicians to be held accountable and we feel the only way to do that is to speak up and keep speaking.”
In response to the shooting Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed the “Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act,” which raised the age to purchase a firearm from 18 to 21.
Some groups have been petitioning the governor to veto expenses that are a part of bill and that go toward a program that would allow certain school employees to carry a firearm. In Volusia County, 25 political Indivisible groups have requested for the removal of the program.
Kim Harty, the treasurer for Indivisible in Port Orange, said that after the Parkland shooting, the group’s leadership team felt they needed to show support for students, faculty and families.
“Giving local students a voice is very important as they are the leaders, and voters, of tomorrow,” Harty said. “We are hoping to show our support for our local students as well as those from MSD and bring awareness to the issue of gun violence and school safety.”
Greg Spradlin, president of the Port Orange Democratic Club, said the ultimate goal is for Congress to pass effective gun control legislation.
At the club’s February meeting, the members voted unanimously to support and participate in the march.
“The Democratic Party believes that sensible legislation is needed to keep dangerous weapons away from people who may use them to harm innocent people,” Spradlin said. “Our club wants to support students across the country, who have impressed us with their articulate and moving calls for action by our political representatives.”