This weekend, Washington DC will welcome thousands of people who have decided to march for gun control. The city will see residents from all over the country – mothers, fathers, young people, religious leaders, all coming from Philadelphia and San Francisco and Seattle – but there’s one constituency that will likely attract the most attention. All eyes will be on the residents of Newtown, Connecticut, coming to honor the victims of the Sandy Hook massacre and demand that this national tragedy spur some form of gun control legislation.
This march is not like so many of the political rallies that pop up in our nation’s capital. It was organized by Molly Smith, the artistic director of Washington’s Arena Stage. Smith has never organized such an event before, but she felt spurred into action by the horrible trauma of Newtown’s mass shooting. She explained her reasoning:
“With the drum roll, the consistency of the mass murders and the shock of it, it is always something that is moving and devastating to me. And then, it’s as if I move on. And in this moment, I can’t move on. I can’t move on. I think it’s because it was children, babies. I was horrified by it.”
For a first-time organizer, Smith has done an amazing job of finding support and gathering resources. The actress Kathleen Turner will be on hand to speak, as well as Marian Wright Edelman from the Children’s Defense Fund. The rally raised $46,000 to cover expenses and licensing.
But more than anything, I think the presence of Newtown residents will resonate for the legislators and politicians that these protests are meant to reach. This town where the whole country’s hearts seem to be lingering, the town that was the scene of a national nightmare, it holds an emotional impact that cannot be denied. And having these residents show up in Washington to demand gun control just might be the political tipping point that the controversial legislation needs.
Yes, there are many issues that contribute to gun violence. And Smith admits that gun control legislation isn’t the only action that needs to be taken. But at the same time, these problems all come down to one thing: guns.
“The issue is guns. The Second Amendment gives us the right to own guns, but it’s not the right to own any gun. These are assault weapons, made for killing people.”