On June 3rd, more than 100 protestors marched through Wisconsin’s capital as part of the March for Our Lives event for National Gun Violence Awareness Day.
As Republicans in the GOP-controlled legislature sought to loosen gun restrictions, the activists moved through Madison’s South Side starting from The Village on Park Street to Penn Park (3 miles from the state Capital), all the while chanting “enough is enough.”
The rally was organized by Public Health Madison & Dane County in tandem with social justice groups like Raging Grannies. The event also featured speakers from organizers, such as Moms Demand Action, politicians, and other groups. Some provided advice on safely storing guns. Others recounted stories of how gun violence took away their friends and family.
One of the speakers, mother and advocate Marsha Baldwridge, recalled how she felt when her 33 year-old son committed suicide with a firearm in 2008. “It still hurts,” said Baldwridge, “but through that brokenness can come some healing for our community, for our state, for our country… I don’t have all the answers, but I know we don’t have to live like this. We can and must do better.” Baldwridge shares her story to carry on her son’s memory and hopes to inspire substantive change.
Kathy Miner of Raging Grannies recounts her days as an elementary school student practicing nuclear air raid drills, and she finds what kids have to fear nowadays in the classroom “just insane.”
“It’s scary to go to school now,” says Grey Hottmann, an eighth grader at Glacier Creek Middle School who attended the rally. They expressed how unsafe they feel going to school after what happened in Uvalde, Texas. “When we were younger,” Hottmann said, “it’s not the kind of thing you were like thinking about. Then you grow up and you realize these things are happening way too often.” Hottmann is baffled that “it takes these mass shootings for people to even consider that maybe we should have more gun violence laws in place.”
Grey’s mother, Emily Hottmann, says “it’s honestly terrifying” sending her child to school and worrying that they may not come home at the end of the day. “I don’t think it’s a way we should live, as Americans,” she says. “I think it’s a devastating fact that just to live our normal lives, to send our kids to schools, we have to worry about their lives, their safety.”
Among the politicians who spoke at the rally was Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin Mandela Barnes, who is currently running in the Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate. “What we don’t need is the gun lobby writing the rules of Wisconsin,” said Barnes. “The NRA doesn’t represent gun owners. The NRA represents gun manufacturers. We are talking about an industry that profits off our pain.”
Subsequent sister marches are scheduled for June 11th. Milwaukee March for Our Lives will start at 12 PM and meet in front of Milwaukee County Courthouse, 930 W Wells St, while another Madison march will take place at the State Street corner of the Wisconsin Capitol Building at 3 PM. Madison March for Our Lives will also feature singing from the Raging Grannies of Dane County.
Mairin Grady, 10, who lives in Fitchburg and attends fifth grade, put it succinctly when she said, “There shouldn’t be gun violence because kids shouldn’t be afraid to go to school.”