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OpinionEditorial

Rallies for gun control are impressive displays of democracy

The story of a new generation’s peaceful civic engagement is still unfolding.

March for Our Lives demonstrators rally against guns

March for Our Lives demonstrators rally against guns Saturday, March 24, 2018, at West 62nd Street and Central Park West. Photo Credit: Rajvi Desai

The poignant signs have been put away for now. Tired feet and voices have been rested. This weekend’s massive marches in support of gun control have sent their message.

But the story of a new generation’s peaceful civic engagement is still unfolding. In a time of mistrust toward many of the nation’s foundational institutions, once again young people are using our fundamental freedoms to assemble and speak to power.

Hundreds of thousands of people gathered around the country Saturday, including a massive crowd in Manhattan from Columbus Circle past the American Museum of Natural History along Central Park. The demonstrators who poured out of uptown, downtown and crosstown trains registered their anger about the lack of real gun reform seen both before and since 17 people were killed at a Florida high school on Feb. 14. It was heartening to watch students flex their political muscles, previewing a vision for the country’s future.

But the marches were also crowded with strollers and baby boomers among a wide coalition of people calling for overdue and common-sense changes to the nation’s gun laws, indignant that politicians have ignored them for so long.

Some politicians are at least feigning listening. A Justice Department rule proposed last week would ban bump stock accessories that allow for rapid firing of powerful weapons — a device used in the mass shooting in Las Vegas in October. That’s far from enough, and many marchers expressed disappointment in the lack of real gun-control measures in the federal budget deal signed last week.

But positive change might be on the horizon, from smart state laws to businesses distancing themselves from guns. Those changes will deepen only if people keep demanding them in the voting booth and in the streets.

This weekend, marchers displayed their commitment, working a time-honored lever of our political system. That’s an element of success already.

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