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The Carletonian

The March for Our Lives: How Do Your Experiences Shape Your View of the Gun Debate?

<;   Close your eyes for a moment and think back to the news coverage of Black Lives Matter protests. It doesn’t even matter which one—the coverage of their protests is almost always the same. Remember the reactions to the deaths of Trayvon Martin? Michael Brown? Freddie Gray? Countless more? Maybe you or someone you know said something like, “I mean, I agree with them, but they shouldn’t protest in that way.” Maybe you or someone you know griped about protesters’ tones of voice or their tactics of traffic disruption or the way that Black Lives Matter protesters brought the issue to the attention of candidates in the 2016 election.

    Now think about the coverage of the March for Our Lives. Think about your own reactions to it. Think about the support given to protesting teenagers in D.C. by liberal adults. Think about how many colleges like Carleton announced that admissions decisions wouldn’t be affected by students protesting. Think about the number of advertisers who have dropped Laura Ingraham’s show after she mocked one of the Parkland survivors. Maybe you or someone you know said, “Well, it’s about time.”

    As many people have pointed out in the wake of the Parkland shooting and the March for Our Lives, the courageous students demanding gun control have been welcomed with open arms by people across the entire left in the U.S.; this courtesy was not afforded to Black Lives Matter protesters, who were marginalized and demonized by people across the political spectrum. The difference? One group is predominantly white, and one is not.

    Where, I wonder, are the people who used to love shouting “all lives matter” at Black Lives Matter protests? Surely now would be the time for those people to realize that yes, all lives that are affected by guns—including black lives—do matter, whether they wanted to admit it before or not. Any discussion of gun violence needs to include the use of deadly force by police. Any discussion of violence in the lives of students needs to include ways to stop urban gun violence as well as ways to stop mass shootings.

    So far, the teenagers protesting gun violence have used the platform they’ve gained to include the narratives of people who weren’t given such a platform. The momentum behind the movement is clearly growing, and hopefully expanding to include everyone whose lives have been touched by violence. That momentum needs to keep growing and building as the country moves forward with the March for Our Lives and Black Lives Matter movements.

    I hope that we can all remember the double standard pushed onto different groups of protesters next time Black Lives Matter or the March for Our Lives comes up in conversation. When we hear someone perpetuate that double standard, we need to speak up and put a stop to it. There is a problem with guns in this country. It can only be fixed if we acknowledge the many ways in which it manifests itself.

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