Students say 1 million expected at marches against gun violence
NEW YORK — Students from the Florida high school where 17 people were fatally shot last month expect more than 1 million participants in upcoming marches in Washington and elsewhere calling for gun regulations, students said Monday.
More than 800 March for Our Lives demonstrations are planned around the world Saturday, sparked by the Feb. 14 shooting in Parkland, Fla.
‘‘It just shows that the youth are tired of being the generation where we’re locked in closets and waiting for police to come in case of a shooter,’’ said Alex Wind, a junior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
‘‘We’re sick and tired of having to live with this normalcy of turning on the news and watching a mass shooting,’’ he added.
Since the massacre, Stoneman Douglas students have been at the forefront of a push to tighten gun restrictions and protect schools.
They have led rallies and lobbied lawmakers in Washington and Florida’s capital, Tallahassee. Last Wednesday, tens of thousands of students around the country walked out of their classrooms to demand action on gun violence and school safety.
Stoneman Douglas students fanned out Monday to discuss the marches with media outlets in New York, including NBC’s ‘‘Today’’ show and CBS’s “This Morning.’’
The National Rifle Association didn’t immediately respond to an inquiry Monday about the upcoming marches.
The group has said any effort to prevent future school shootings needs to ‘‘keep guns out of the hands of those who are a danger to themselves or others, while protecting the rights of law-abiding Americans.’’
Amid the wave of activism, Florida passed a law curbing young peoples’ access to rifles; the NRA has sued to try to block it. Some major US retailers decided to curb the sale of assault-style rifles or stop selling firearms to people younger than 21.
But Congress has shown little appetite for new gun regulations. President Trump at one point proposed raising the minimum age for buying an assault-style rifle to 21 but then backed off, citing a lack of political support.
The Republican president has since released a school safety plan that includes strengthening the federal background check system and helping states pay for firearms training for teachers, while assigning the buying-age issue to a commission to study.
A petition associated with Saturday’s march calls for banning sales of assault-style weapons and large-capacity ammunition magazines, as well as tightening background checks.
The suspect in the Parkland shooting, 19-year-old former student Nikolas Cruz, used an AR-15 assault-style rifle, according to authorities. His lawyer has said he will plead guilty in return for a life prison sentence, rather than possibly facing the death penalty.
Beyond making a statement, Saturday’s marches aim to make political change by registering and mobilizing people to vote. But the students say their aim isn’t partisan. ‘‘We’re just trying to make sure that morally-just people are running this country,’’ Stoneman Douglas senior Ryan Deitsch said.
In a separate development, relatives of the victims of a terrorist attack in San Bernardino, Calif., called on the California Public Employees’ Retirement System board to stop investing in companies that sell assault-style weapons.
Robert Velasco, the father of one 27-year-old victim, said at a board hearing that the action would ‘‘send a powerful message’’ to lawmakers who have failed to act after mass shootings nationwide.