Earlier this week, March For Our Lives—the national movement launched in March 2018 by student activists at Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas in the aftermath of the deadliest high school shooting in our country’s history—called on the Biden-Harris administration to develop a comprehensive plan to address gun violence in the United States.
The organization pointed to the 41,000 lives taken by gun violence last year (the highest death toll since 1981), as well as the rising number of firearm fatalities among children and teens, as just a few of the reasons for the federal government to increase resources and dedicate personnel to address what the administration itself has described as a national public health crisis.
“It should not take another mass shooting to provoke a response,” said Alexis Confer, executive director of March For Our Lives. “It’s time to get to work, and young people demand a seat at the table. It is time for a national plan to stop the violence.”
Among the policy demands sought by March For Our Lives:
- Personnel: The appointment of a Director of Gun Violence Prevention to operationalize agencies, negotiate funding, and lead a task force empaneled to study and recommend legislative, executive, and budgetary reforms.
- Executive actions during the first 100 days: including near-universal background checks (requiring anyone who sells five or more guns per year to run a background check on all gun sales); license revocation for gun manufacturers and dealers who break the law; closing the boyfriend loophole to prevent those convicted of domestic abuse from purchasing firearms; and increased oversight of arms exports by shifting regulatory authority back to the State Department and/or ensure Congressional signoff.
- Funding: March For Our Lives is asking the Biden-Harris administration to declare gun violence a national public health emergency, with the short-term goal of unlocking at least $1 billion in funding under the Stafford Act to be distributed to states upon a Governor’s request, to be used for community intervention programming; utilize discretionary agency grant funding and earmark additional funding for states to go toward evidence-based and effective community programming; and ensure that President Biden’s budget restores funding for student safety and school-based programs (including funding for counseling, therapy, and other trauma-informed approaches).
“Gun violence is so prevalent and normalized in our communities, it’s conditioned in our culture,” said Bria Smith, March For Our Lives board member. “We want to fight back and change the systems that have kept young people, Black people, and other people of color out of the conversation. Our stories are not just for consumption. We want to see action from this administration.”