You may have heard about the student-led movement March For Our Lives
whose mission and focus it is to demand that a comprehensive and effective bill be immediately brought before Congress to address the gun violence issues that are rampant in our country.
On March 24, the kids and families of March For Our Lives will take to the streets of Washington, DC to demand that their lives and safety become a priority.
And so does Austin.
March For Our Lives - AustinMarch For Our Lives Austin
is inviting you to join students from across Austin as they march from City Hall to the Capitol in an effort to raise awareness and make substantive changes to gun policy in Texas, and the United States.
March For Our Lives in Austin - Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How
We’ve interviewed the three students who started the Austin chapter of the March for Our Lives and while the planning is still ongoing, here are the things you need to know about the march and the movement.
Who is organizing the event? Organizers:
The Austin chapter of the March for Our Lives was started by Jack Kappelman, Conor Heffernan, and Kari Siegenthaler. We are seniors attending the Liberal Arts and Science Academy High School in northeast Austin. Additionally, Kristine Garaña has been helping us as an adult counterpart. She is a community activist, and the mom of four girls. She volunteers with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America because she wants her girls to grow up safe and without the fear of gun violence in their schools or lives. We are also aided by countless volunteers, whether they be fellow students around Central Texas, or adults. We are extremely grateful for all the support!
Why are you getting involved, what are your goals, and how do you want gun policy to change?
America has a longstanding and rooted history with guns. I have always believed that many of our gun policies are too lenient, allowing unnecessary and destructive violence to harm our communities. But on a personal level, I wanted to get involved because I was tired of going to school afraid. What should be an emblem of safety, a nursery for growth and development, has been consistently threatened by gun violence.
I understand that changing gun policy in this country is a long and winding road. Legislation is difficult to pass, and change is slow to come by. But this is why I feel that my passion and the passion of so many other people is necessary in order to create substantive change on common sense gun law issues. No child should feel afraid to go to school. By starting now, we can make revolutionary change in the future.
- Kari Siegenthaler
I personally believe that change is required in how gun legislation deals with schools. As a student, I am tired of the fact that lockdown drills in the event of a shooter have become such a routine thing to happen that kids are entirely undisturbed by them. I think that, more than anything, shows a need for something to change. Whether that’s limiting the sale of AR-15s or other types of semi-automatic weapons, or raising the age to buy weapons to something other than 18, I think that legislators need to listen to the concerns of the students of this country. After all, we’ll all be voting one day, and we’ll remember who stood up for our safety in schools and who didn’t.
- Jack Kappelman
The gun issue in America wasn’t always controversial. After Columbine, Democrats and Republicans came together to pass sweeping legislation on the national level that helped to drastically reduce the amount of gun violence in our country. But once this legislation was passed, organizations like the NRA - which used to be a safety organization - have given massive donations to politicians in exchange for their silence. These same politicians have stonewalled any and all legislation meant to keep weapons out of the hands of people who commit atrocities like the shootings at the Aurora movie theater, Pulse nightclub, Sandy Hook Elementary School, Las Vegas country music festival, and this most recent tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Well I’ve noticed, and so have a great number of young people. We have grown up in this cycle of mass shooting followed by inaction and we won’t stand for it. We recognize T.B.C.
- Conor Heffernan
When and where is the event?Organizers:
The march takes place on March 24, 2018 and starts at noon at the City Hall. From there we will march to the Capitol.
We are currently expecting the march to last until 3, but this is dependent on when we are able to get permits to use the Capital grounds. The application for the permit was submitted a few days ago, so we will update everyone soon with an official schedule.
Who can participate in the event?Organizers:
We want everyone to be marching with us! We're sending a message of unity as we all call for change that seriously needs to happen.
What activities are planned and who will be speaking? Organizers:
We hope to have several guest speakers lined up for when the marchers arrive at the capitol. These speakers include concerned citizens along with elected representatives who are heeding our call to action.
We have been in contact with local, state, and federal politicians and advocacy groups, along with private citizens. We will be releasing an official list hopefully by next week, but as of now we can confirm that Mayor Steve Adler will be addressing the marchers.
We are also planning on having several students speak at the event as well, including Jack Haimowitz, a survivor of the Douglas High School shooting. We hope that by bringing together state and local politicians, as well as student voices, we can push an inspiring message, and bring more attention to the capability of our generation to spark long-lasting change.
What do you want marchers to do, wear, bring, chant? What do you want marchers NOT to do, wear bring, chant?Organizers:
We want our marchers to bring their friends. The more people we have advocating for this reform, the more likely our lawmakers will listen to us.
We will also have t-shirts that will be sold online prior to the event in case anyone wants to wear sponsored apparel. It is important to note that all proceeds will be going to the expenses of this event and the rest will be donated to Sandy Hook Promise.
Marchers should make sure to bring plenty of water and to stay hydrated, as we are not sure yet if we are going to be able to provide water.
We have the support of APD, and any sort of anti-police sentiment could cause unnecessary tension. We, the organizers of the march, have adopted the platform of the national march movement, which is that we are “pro-gun control” and not officially “anti-gun”.
The reasoning for this stance is simple: We wish to promote a message that can unify people of many different backgrounds, who all share the wish of making schools safe for our children and stopping the awful gun violence in America.
An important aspect of the protest is civility and advocating our opinions through peaceful means, so we encourage people to make their voices heard by simply walking, chanting, and listening to the speakers.
We suspect that the “the time is now” is going to be a chant, as well as simply “march for our lives!”.
Is the event safe?Organizers:
APD will be providing security in the event of counter-protests. Paramedics will be volunteering to help should anyone get hurt, become sick, overheat, etc.
Are counter-protesters expected?Organizers:
Initially, we didn’t anticipate any counter-protesters because we thought this event would be pretty small. However, after seeing how big the event was getting, we now expect counter-protesters to be in attendance. We trust all at the Capitol on the day of the march - no matter if they are protesting or counter-protesting - to keep this event peaceful. However, as we stated earlier, APD will provide security in case there are any conflicts.
Do you need volunteers? How can people volunteer?Organizers:
The best way to volunteer is to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
and tell us what you would be able to do as volunteers.
What happens with the movement after the event? Are there any plans yet?Organizers:
After this event, we vote.
We will have deputy voter registrars who will be in attendance and registering people to vote in the November elections. This protest is a great way to demonstrate our anger to all of our elected representatives, but the ultimate goal is to elect representatives who will protect kids.
“For me personally, this means unseating Congressman Michael McCaul and Senator Ted Cruz.” - Conor
There will also be a walkout planned for April 20th, but that isn’t being coordinated by us. We hope to bring attention to the gun debate so that people continue to lobby lawmakers into taking real, substantive action to make our nation safe.
Are there any websites, social media pages, or other platforms people can get information before and after the event?Organizers:
Yes!!! We have posted this event - March For Our Lives Austin - on Facebook. This page offers our contact information to any who want to have a greater role in this event. It also allows us as organizers to get a better picture as to how many people we will come March 24th.
Soon we'll be publishing a website for the event, as well as a page for people to donate and buy t-shirts to help us fundraise.
For now, keep updated by checking our Facebook events page
, and emailing us at email@example.com
if you have any questions.
Thank you, Kari, Jack and Conor, and thank you, March For Our Lives, for providing our kids with a (better) future.
We will be updating this article once more information becomes available and arrangements are finalized.