By Spencer Feingold
Over a year since its founding, the student-led advocacy group March For Our Lives is now working to make gun violence a top issue for 2020 presidential candidates.
We are "working in a myriad of ways to make sure that these people, these politicians that are running for president don't forget about the people that are dying from gun violence,” Lauren Hogg, the youngest founding member of the group, told Cheddar in an interview Friday.
March For Our Lives was founded in February 2018 by surviving student’s of the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Seventeen students and staff members were killed in the attack.
Hogg, who was a freshman at the time, survived the shooting along with her older brother David. The siblings quickly become prominent faces of March For Our Lives and have since published a book, “#NeverAgain: A New Generation Draws the Line,” which details the students’ activism.
In the last year, March For Our Lives has held major rallies across the country to draw attention to the epidemic of gun violence in the U.S. The group also drafts public policy, pressures lawmakers, organizes get-out-the-vote campaigns, and protests against pro-gun organizations like the National Rifle Association.
So far, the race for the 2020 democratic nomination has focused largely on positions around prominent legislation such as the Green New Deal and universal healthcare. But several presidential hopefuls have been outspoken on tackling the issue of gun violence.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) were the two candidates that mentioned gun control policy the most on social media, according to an analysis by The Washington Post.
“They want to hear what we have to say because it is time for them to listen to us,” Hogg said, adding that March For Our Lives has been in contact with several of the candidates.
“As these candidates are coming up, a lot of them are having one of their main issues be to end gun violence,” Hogg added. “That is one of the main changes that we have seen because of our movement and because thousands of other people that care about this issue, it has become one of the top voting issues.”
'It continues every single day’
March For Our Lives is also pushing politicians not just to focus on the issue after a mass shootings, but to realize that gun violence is an epidemic in the U.S. — especially in low income areas and communities of color.
“It doesn't just end when the media leaves, it continues every single day,” Hogg said.
This week, the organization put up a billboard in New York’s Times Square to raise awareness of the issue and urge public support for the movement. In the big, block lettering, the billboard features first person accounts from the Stoneman Douglas students, such as “I saw my brother get shot,” “I saw my classmate get shot,” and “I saw my teacher get shot.”
"The main goal of this billboard campaign was to show people that we still are here — months, a year after the shooting that happened at our school,” Hogg said. “People from all across the world will see the reality of what gun violence is in this country.”
For full interview click here.