Marching for Policy Change

By Michael R. Malone

Marching for Policy Change

By Michael R. Malone
UM students rally against gun violence, support Coral Gables commission resolution.

Approximately 25 students, members of the newly formed ‘Canes Against Gun Violence (CAGV) group, held a brief rally on February 28 at the Rock, then walked the two and a half miles under a noonday sun to Coral Gables City Hall to hand deliver red and white carnations as a “thank you” to the City Commission for passing a resolution urging gun control reform.

“I am marching, and we’re all marching for policy change,” said Elizabeth “Liz” Rodriguez, a core organizer for the event. “If high school students can make noise, then we can help them enact policy change,” she added, referring to the students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas (MSD) High School in Parkland who have galvanized the nation with their youthful activism in the wake of the mass shooting on February 14 at the school.

Logan Smith, a sophomore majoring in both political science and voice, led the students as they marched across campus, chanting “Stop the Silence, End the Violence,” among other slogans.

“We want the commission to know how much we appreciate and support their resolution,” said Smith, originally from Denver who described himself as a “big advocate for gun control reform.”

The Gables City Commission passed a resolution on February 27 adopting two bills, one pending in the Florida House, the other in the Senate, that would ban assault weapons and large-capacity magazines, as part of the city’s legislative agenda and urging the Legislature to adopt these or similar laws “as they are good public policy.”

A clerk at the commission confirmed that the students delivered their red and white carnations to the commission and held a short rally.

Steven Beck, a third-year law student, attended the rally and walked with the group. He  felt moved to action because his girlfriend’s younger sister who attends an elementary school near Parkland was forced into lock down—like students in many schools in the area—during the heart-wrenching hours after the mass shooting.

“There are a lot of common-sense reforms, such as banning high-capacity magazines, closing gun show loopholes, that we should do,” he said, adding that he’s most interested in reform that will withstand any constitutional challenge. Beck suggested that “we should study guns the same way that we study auto accidents.”

Rally organizer Rodriguez, who attended a public high school in Coral Springs near Parkland, said she was sad but not surprised when she learned what had transpired at MSD.

“Just last year we had to become accustomed to what it was like, following procedures during an active shooter and lockdown training, waiting and hiding in the dark, waiting for it to be over, waiting and waiting and using our textbooks as shields and weapons.”