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Thousands march on Washington DC to demand changes to US gun laws

The call for changes to the law in America follow recent massacres in Uvalde, Texas, and Buffalo, New York state.

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People participate in the second March For Our Lives rally in support of gun control in Washington (AP)

People participate in the second March For Our Lives rally in support of gun control in Washington (AP)

People participate in the second March For Our Lives rally in support of gun control in Washington (AP)

Thousands of people have streamed to the US National Mall in Washington DC as part of country-wide demonstrations to demand greater gun control in America.

The high-profile effort to change the laws follow recent mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas, and Buffalo, New York, that activists say should compel US congress to act.

Organisers hoped the second March For Our Lives rally would draw as many as 50,000 people to the Washington Monument in the US capital.

While that would be far less than the original 2018 march that filled Washington with more than 200,000 people, activists have decided to focus on smaller marches at an estimated 300 locations across the US.

Despite wet weather in the US capital, scores of people turned out on the monument grounds well before the rally began, holding up signs, including one that said: “Children aren’t replaceable, senators are. Vote.”

A middle school-age girl carried a sign that read: “I want to feel safe at school”.

Daud Mumin, a co-chairman of the march’s board of directors and a recent graduate of Westminster College in Salt Lake City, said: “We want to make sure that this work is happening across the country.

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Children participate in the second March For Our Lives rally (AP)

Children participate in the second March For Our Lives rally (AP)

Children participate in the second March For Our Lives rally (AP)

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

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

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.

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The Parkland students then sought to change 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 did not match the Florida results at the national level, but it has persisted in advocating for gun restrictions since then, as well as participating in voter registration drives.

Now, with another string of mass shootings bringing gun control back into the national conversation in the US, organisers of this weekend’s events say the time is right to renew their push for a national overhaul.

“Right now we are angry,” said Mariah Cooley, a March For Our Lives board member and a senior at Washington’s Howard University.

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

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Parkland survivor and activist David Hogg speaks to the crowd (AP)

Parkland survivor and activist David Hogg speaks to the crowd (AP)

Parkland survivor and activist David Hogg speaks to the crowd (AP)

The protest comes at a time of renewed political activity on guns and a crucial moment for possible action in US 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 described for members of congress how she covered herself with a dead classmate’s blood to avoid being shot.

On Tuesday, Hollywood star Matthew McConaughey appeared in the White House briefing room to press for gun legislation, and made highly personal remarks about the violence in his hometown of Uvalde.

The US house of representatives 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 US senate.

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Actor Matthew McConaughey holds a picture or Alithia Ramirez, 10, who was killed in the mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas (AP)

Actor Matthew McConaughey holds a picture or Alithia Ramirez, 10, who was killed in the mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas (AP)

Actor Matthew McConaughey holds a picture or Alithia Ramirez, 10, who was killed in the mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas (AP)

Democratic and Republican senators had hoped to reach agreement this week on a framework for addressing the issue and discussed it on Friday, but they did not announce an accord.

Mr Mumin said the goal is to send a message to members of congress that public opinion on gun control is shifting under their feet.

“If they’re not on our side, there are going to be consequences — voting them out of office and making their lives a living hell when they’re in office,” he said.


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