Amid a global health pandemic that has spurred calls to practice social distancing and avoid crowds,...
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Young Activists Aren't Letting A Global Pandemic Stop Their Movement

by Morgan Brinlee

Two years after students led more than a million people in a march against gun violence, the organizing group behind the historic March For Our Lives event is rolling out a new campaign with a focus on digital organizing. Through its new OUR POWER campaign, March For Our Lives seeks to galvanize young activists despite the ongoing global coronavirus pandemic. While prioritizing social distancing, March For Our Lives is reminding young people that their voices, and their votes, matter in the upcoming 2020 election.

"On the two year anniversary of the most historic student protest in our nation's history, March For Our Lives is building a broad coalition that will excite young people and get them involved in this year's election," Alexis Confer, March For Our Lives' executive director said. "What the March For Our Lives students have achieved is simply remarkable, and we're going to harness that energy and activism and use it to reach young people via their phones and through digital organizing. Nothing, not even coronavirus, is going to stop us in this year's election."

Despite more than a dozen states having issued stay-at-home orders in an effort to limit the spread of coronavirus, March For Our Lives, created by survivors of gun violence following the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, plans to find new ways to engage with youth activists and drive social and legislative change both online and off as part of its new OUR POWER campaign.

In the coming weeks, the campaign aims to engage young people in action focused on voter registration, online trainings, education and reform, and launching local peace plans. "The movement will focus initially on a robust digital organizing strategy to help fight for a safer future," March For Our Lives said in a statement. "While schools may be closed and the nation is practicing social distancing, the fight continues. Every one of us has a role to play."

In fact, March For Our Lives founders have cautioned that stay-at-home orders could potentially increase instances of gun violence or accidental gun deaths. "During this pandemic, gun violence won't stop and neither will we," David Hogg, a March For Our Lives co-founder and board member said in a statement. "Millions of young people live in homes with loaded, unsecured weapons in their home and during this global crisis, many Americans are stockpiling guns. With children home from school, this could lead to more accidental shootings and gun suicides. Domestic violence won’t stop, which is why we need to disarm abusers and close the boyfriend loophole."

According to ABC News, gun sales have been on the rise in states all across the country and the Brady Campaign, a nonprofit organization that advocates for gun violence prevention, has also cautioned that "increased firearm purchases due to fears over coronavirus" may lead to more instances of Family Fire.

"While it is understandable to seek what can feel like protection in times of upheaval, we must acknowledge the risks that bringing guns into the home pose and take all appropriate measures to mitigate that risk," Kris Brown, president of the Brady Campaign, said in a statement earlier this month, urging "all gun owners to ensure that their weapons are safely stored."

While stuck at home social distancing, March For Our Lives is asking America's youth and other advocates for gun violence prevention to remember one thing: "No matter where you are or what your circumstance, we're not giving up on the fight to make our schools and communities safer and neither should you."

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