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Thousands across US call for gun reform

Thousands of protesters are preparing to rally across the US as part of a renewed push for nationwide gun control.

Motivated by a fresh surge in mass shootings – from Uvalde in Texas to Buffalo, New York – protesters say politicians must take note of shifting public opinion and finally enact sweeping reforms.

Organisers expect the second March For Our Lives rally to draw about 50,000 demonstrators to the Washington Monument in the nation’s capital.

That is far fewer than the original 2018 march, which filled downtown Washington with more than 200,000 people.

This time, organisers are focusing on holding smaller marches at an estimated 300 locations around the nation.

“We want to make sure that this work is happening across the country,” said Daud Mumin, co-chairman of the march’s board of directors.

“This work is not just about DC, it’s not just about senators.”

The first march was spurred by the February 14, 2018, killings of 14 students and three staff members by a former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

That massacre sparked the creation of the youth-led March For Our Lives movement, which successfully pressured the Republican-dominated Florida state government to enact sweeping gun-control reforms.

The Parkland students subsequently took aim at gun laws in other states and nationally, launching March For Our Lives and holding the big rally in Washington on March 24, 2018.

The group could repeat its Florida success at the national level, but has persisted in advocating for gun restrictions.

As another string of mass shootings brings gun control back into the national conversation, organisers of this weekend’s events say the time is right to renew their push for a wide-ranging overhaul.

“Right now we are angry,” Mariah Cooley, a March For Our Lives board member, said.

“This will be a demonstration to show that us, as Americans, we’re not stopping anytime soon until Congress does their jobs. And if not, we’ll be voting them out.”

The protest comes at a time of renewed political activity on guns and a crucial moment for possible action in Congress.

Survivors of mass shootings and other incidents of gun violence have lobbied legislators and testified on Capitol Hill this week.

Among them was Miah Cerrillo, an 11-year-old girl who survived the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.

She told politicians how she covered herself with a dead classmate’s blood to avoid being shot.

On Tuesday, Hollywood actor Matthew McConaughey appeared in the White House briefing room to press for gun legislation, discussing the violence in his hometown of Uvalde.

The House has passed bills that would raise the age limit to buy semi-automatic weapons and establish federal ‘red flag’ laws but such initiatives have traditionally stalled or been heavily watered down in the senate.

Mumin referred to the senate as “where substantive action goes to die”, and said the new march is meant to spend a message to politicians that public opinion on gun control is shifting under their feet.

“If they’re not on our side, there are going to be consequences,” he said.

“Voting them out of office and making their lives a living hell when they’re in office.”

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