The day after the December 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, where 20 children and six adults were killed, Mackenzie Daly wrote to then-President Barack Obama about gun reform.
Now a Mattituck High School senior, Mackenzie will join other local students and residents heading to Washington, D.C., March 24 for the March for Our Lives, an event organized by students to demand gun reform for school safety.
Following the Feb. 14 mass shooting that claimed 17 lives at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., students from the school swiftly spoke out against gun violence and lobbied both state and federal lawmakers for reform. Students then quickly moved to take their message of change for “not one more” school shooting to the streets.
The Southold Democratic Committee is organizing a bus trip to the march at $60 a seat, according to committee chairperson Kathryn Casey Quigley.
Mackenzie, who describes herself as politically interested, called this “a generation-defining” moment.
“I’ve found it easy to be cynical about the government sometimes,” she said in an email. “But the vicious cycle in which our society normalizes mass shootings has been disturbed by the heroic students speaking out against government inaction.”
She noted the influence Parkland students’ voices have had on decisions by retailers such as Walmart, L.L. Bean and Dick’s Sporting Goods to stop selling firearms to anyone under age 21 and by others to sever ties with the National Rifle Association.
These changes indicate a “new and improved political climate” to come, she said.
Mattituck sophomore Jillian Orr plans to attend the march, too.
“I am attending the march because children should have the right to be safe in school, parents deserve to know their children are not threatened by guns and teachers should be educators, not armed guards,” she said.
Meanwhile, bringing the national conversation to her school will help others form their own opinions and give her peers an opportunity to strengthen the student voice, Jillian said.
“As a student, it is inspiring to see kids my age taking action when elected officials fail to do so,” she said. “I think this national response to the travesty in Parkland empowers teenagers and lets them know they can make a change.”
Ms. Quigley said the bus to Washington, D.C., will leave Southold at 4 a.m. Saturday, March 24, and will return the same day. Those interested can sign up at http://conta.cc/2FgHhd2. Students interested in participating or those interested in sponsoring a student’s trip should email [email protected].
Supporting marches are planned in other locations around the country, including New York City and Heckscher Park in Huntington.
Ms. Casey Quigley said it’s important to attend the march to stand with the students and survivors of Parkland and send a message to elected officials that action on gun violence prevention is expected. She said she hopes more students sign up for the trip. Nearly a dozen local residents have already volunteered to sponsor student seats on the bus, she said, so most students who register will be eligible to ride for a free or at discounted rate.
The march is not about violating the Second Amendment or “rounding up everyone’s guns,” Ms. Casey Quigley said.
It’s about reform that will make schools and other public spaces safer, she said.
“This is a student-led movement taking hold all across the country,” she said. “These are our future voters and future leaders. Any opportunity to support their civic participation and their exercising of their First Amendment right should be encouraged.”