National youth-led movement advocating for better gun control
By Jose Cassola
Local LGBT activists and openly gay elected officials joined the #NeverAgain movement Friday and Saturday, marching in solidarity with millions of anti-gun activists nationwide to demand change in Tallahassee and Washington, DC and enforce stricter gun laws.
March for Our Lives was created, inspired and led by students across the country who wish to no longer risk their lives waiting for someone else to take action to stop the epidemic of mass school shootings in the United States. The latest incident took place Feb. 14 in Parkland, Florida, leaving 17 dead at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
“We cannot allow one more child to be shot at school [or]…one more teacher to make a choice to jump in front of a firing assault rifle to save the lives of students,” said Walker Burttschell, president of the Miami-Dade LGBTA Democratic Caucus. “We cannot allow one more family to wait for a call or text that never comes. Our schools are unsafe. Our children and teachers are dying. We must make it our top priority to save these lives.”
North Miami Councilman Scott Galvin joined students from North Miami High School and Alonzo and Tracy Mourning Senior High School as they boarded buses headed for the nation’s capital Friday, March 23.
“As a former teacher, I realize this is a historic event and a teachable moment,” Galvin said. “Many of these students have never been to Washington, DC. This is an opportunity for them to participate in a rally that speaks to their generation.”
Photo courtesy of Michael Góngora
The City of Miami Beach hosted a March for Our Lives rally at 8 a.m. Saturday, March 24 prior to a local march, which started at Miami Beach High School. The rally attracted several community leaders, including City of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez and Miami-Dade County Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho. Miami Beach Commissioner Michael Góngora says he is “extremely proud” that the City of Miami Beach hosted the Miami-Dade County version of the national youth-led movement advocating for better gun control and mental health counseling.
“The March for Our Lives is a movement to fight for our students’ rights to live in a world where they don’t have to go to school worried that they will not make it home that day,” Góngora said.
Miami Beach commissioners recently passed a resolution urging federal and state elected officials to restrict the availability and use of military-grade and high capacity magazine assault weapons to law enforcement agencies only. Góngora also sponsored a discussion regarding filing litigation seeking to invalidate state law which punishes elected officials for violating state preemption provisions related to the regulation of firearms and ammunition.
“Given the severity of the penalties for violating the state preemption provisions, I believe that a lawsuit seeking to invalidate these extreme penalties is the strongest course of action for the city to take regarding this matter,” Góngora said. “The city commission unanimously supported this idea and directed the city attorney to join in proposed litigation by the City of Weston or file our own.”
Activist Jaime Bayo says the need for new gun reform has been needed ever since one of the worst mass shootings in the U.S. affected a segment of the LGBT community in 2016 when a gunman shot and killed 49 people at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. That incident was followed by the Las Vegas shooting in 2017, which killed 58 people.
“Don’t be complicit to gun violence. Now is not the time to be silent on this issue,” Bayo said. “I stand with my brothers and sisters slaughtered at Pulse. I stand with the kindergarteners and the college students gunned down in their own schools….to make concerts and movie theaters and even homes safer in our country. If not now, when?”
Miami Beach Commissioner Michael Góngora was among the openly gay elected officials and LGBT activists that joined the March for Our Lives Saturday. The rally attracted several other community leaders, including City of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez and Miami-Dade County Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho. (Photos courtesy of Michael Góngora).