Valencia was the first overseas locale to sign on to the March For Our Lives Movement 12 Jun 2022 in a protest against US gun laws. By Eugene Costello
Yesterday, Saturday, 11 June, Americans raised their voices in cities across the country to call for peace and with the hope that their shouts protesting gun violence would be heard over the mass shootings which occur almost daily throughout the county. But on this occasion those who called for a stop to gun violence in the US were not alone, as beyond the nation’s borders marches and demonstrations were held with the slogan “March For Our Lives”.
The demonstration in Valencia was the first one to be publicised outside of the US, after which, demonstrations were scheduled to be held the same day in cities such as Munich, Zurich, Geneva, and Rome. The two recent mass shooting on 14 May and 24 May shook yet again the US. The first in a supermarket in Buffalo where ten patrons (all African-American), and the second in an elementary school in Texas, which resulted in the murder of two teachers and 19 children.
Since the massacre at the Texan school, little more than a fortnight, there have been 42 mass shootings in the US, according to the Gun Violence Archive, bringing to the total to at least 250 mass shootings and 27 school shootings this year so far. Firearms are now, since 2020, the leading cause of death for children in teens in the US, ahead of traffic accidents or diseases like cancer.
Those who in the US demand greater safety measure for this type of guns, or for the mass reduction in the overall number itself, often feel abandoned by a political class that either directly encourages the purchasing and use of these guns or is unable (or unwilling) to respond to the problem. It was for this reason that in 2018 the student-led movement “March For Our Lives” was founded in the wake of the Parkland, Florida shooting in a high school that kills 14 students and 3 employees. It is estimated that yesterday around 500 gatherings were held under the very same slogan all across the country, with the hope that this time their voices be heard both in the White House and in Congress.
What is curious is that on this occasion demonstrations were called for outside of the US capital and beyond its borders. The demonstration held yesterday in Valencia’s Plaza de la Virgen was organised by Anthony Nuckols (originally from Richmond, Virginia) and university professor at the Universitat Jaume I in Castelló, Spain. Nuckols, who reached out to the main March For Our Lives organisation admits the frustration he feels at what he sees as more and more commonplace in his home country.
“We want to denounce the American authorities inaction to implement measures that would stop these atrocities, measure which have been on the table for decades, like reinstating the federal assault weapons ban, establishing a minimum age limit for the purchasing of all guns, or the so-called red-flag laws,” says Nuckols.
“The organizers of the Valencia demonstration hope to encourage solidarity with citizens across the globe, who watch in horror as the richest country slowly bleeds to death in a Civil War imposed by the few. They believe that by calling the world’s attention to these demonstrations they may contribute to the next steps, which will be key for the US and its political class to reflect on the image they broadcast for the rest of the world to see.”