Tuesday 16 October 2018

Stars back calls for tighter gun control laws

Britons Rita Ora and Leona Lewis joined actresses including Laura Dern, Amy Schumer and Connie Britton to speak in support of the mass movement.

Protesters during a March For Our Lives rally in support of gun control (Jose Luis Magana/AP)
Protesters during a March For Our Lives rally in support of gun control (Jose Luis Magana/AP)

By Sam Blewett, Press Association Los Angeles Correspondent

Hollywood backed the calls of school shooting survivors for tighter gun control laws as hundreds of thousands across the US protested in the student-led March For Our Lives.

Stars joined students on stage in Los Angeles on Saturday at a sibling march to the Washington DC rally organised in the wake of the Valentine’s Day massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Britons Rita Ora and Leona Lewis joined actresses including Laura Dern, Amy Schumer and Connie Britton to speak in support of the mass movement taking on opponents of tighter laws such as the National Rifle Association (NRA).

Survivors of the Marjory Stoneman shooting, Mia Freeman and Hayley Licata, received a huge applause from the audience.

“No one should ever have to experience the pain we are all feeling right now,” Mia said.

“We should be going to school to get an education and a future, not wondering if we are ever going to see that future.”

Hayley hit out at US President Donald Trump’s proposal to arm teachers in the wake of the atrocity at her school in Parkland, Florida.

“The answer to gun violence is not more guns,” she said.

Lewis let them know that allies in Britain are supporting them, citing the protest at the US embassy in London.

“We hear you and we stand with you because being safe from gun violence is a right that everyone deserves,” she said.

Ora added: “Moments like this not only inspire us, they inspire the whole damn world.”

Schumer told the crowd they were risking having “literal targets on our backs” by speaking out in the fight for the “fallen angels” and the children living in fear of guns.

She blasted politicians who accept money from the NRA to “uphold these laws outdated by hundreds of years”. She added: “They allow for repeated killings of students.”

Dern praised the “incredible students – our next generation, our revolutionaries” and actress Olivia Wilde said the current movement is one the NRA has long feared.

“A new generation has been galvanised by their collective rage and they are ready not only to march but to vote,” she said.

“You are the leaders we have been waiting for. I’m so proud to stand behind you.”

“Vote them out” was a prominent chant from the crowds which maintained a focus on expelling leaders standing in the way of reform at the upcoming mid-term elections.

Carrying placards displaying portraits of the victims of the latest massacres and ones reading “Bullets are not school supplies”, “My congressman takes NRA blood money” and “Protect kids not guns”, thousands of marchers descended on Downtown LA.

Action since the 17 students and staff members killed in the latest attack has so far seen tens of thousands stage school walkouts and has thrust the gun debate into the national consciousness.

The outcry has seen some legislative success, with Florida passing its first new gun controls in more than 20 years and the US Congress issuing funding to improve school safety and compliance with criminal background checks for firearm purchases.

But, the protesters were keen to reiterate, there is still much to be done before students feel safe in the nation where school shootings and other gun massacres are a regular occurrence.

Press Association

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