‘Enough is enough’ is message at March for Our Lives rally in Washington, D.C.

Fred Guttenberg was one of the Parkland parents in Washington, D.C., for the second March For Our LIves rally in Washington, D.C. His daughter, Jaime Guttenberg was killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Thousands of people rallied on the National Mall and across the United States on Saturday in a renewed push for gun control measures after recent deadly mass shootings from Uvalde, Texas, to Buffalo, New York, that activists say should compel Congress to act.

“Enough is enough,” District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser told the second March for Our Lives rally in her city. “I speak as a mayor, a mom, and I speak for millions of Americans and America’s mayors who are demanding that Congress do its job. And its job is to protect us, to protect our children from gun violence.”

Fred Guttenberg, the father of 14-year-old Jaime Guttenberg, one of the 17 people who was killed during the Marjory Stoneman Douglas massacre on Feb. 14, 2018, echoed the sentiment. He was one of many survivors and parents from Parkland in attendance at Saturday’s rally.

“Enough is enough. This isn’t about taking away rights or the Second Amendment. It is about lowering the gun violence death rate in this country, which is out of control,” he said.

Speaker after speaker in Washington called on senators, who are seen as a major impediment to legislation, to act or face being voted out of office, especially given the shock to the nation’s conscience after 19 children and two teachers were killed May 31 at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde.

“If our government can’t do anything to stop 19 kids from being killed and slaughtered in their own school, and decapitated, it’s time to change who is in government,” said David Hogg, a survivor of the 2018 shooting that killed 17 students and staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. He is also a co-founder of the March For Our Lives organization that was created after the shooting and held its first rally in Washington not long afterward.

“This time is different,” Hogg said, leading the crowd to repeat after him. He later led the crowd in chants of “Vote them out.”

Another Parkland survivor and group co-founder, X Gonzalez, delivered an impassioned, profanity-laced plea to Congress for change. “We are being murdered,” she screamed and implored Congress to “act your age, not your shoe size.”

Hundreds gathered at the Pine Trails Amphitheater in Parkland, where Debra Hixon, whose husband, high school athletic director Chris Hixon, died in the shooting, said it is “all too easy” for young men to walk into stores and buy weapons.

Hixon said for her Saturday was a time to say: “We’ve talked enough. What are you going to do? We need you to go out and vote . . .”

The widow of the high-school athletic director that was killed in the Parkland school shooting says it is a time for action.

“Going home to an empty bed and an empty seat at the table is a constant reminder that he is gone,” said Hixon, who now serves as a school board member. “We weren’t done making memories, sharing dreams and living life together. Gun violence ripped that away from my family.”

Manuel Oliver, whose son Joaquin was among the 17 killed at Parkland was in Washington with his wife Patricia. Both have been vocal gun reform advocates since the Feb. 14, 2018 shooting.

“I really believe that this time it’s going to be more powerful. The statements are going to be more direct,” Manuel Oliver said. “I think this march needs to create enough disruption that will bring our politicians out of their comfort zone.”

He spoke at the rally calling on students “to avoid going back to school until our elected leaders stop avoiding the crisis of gun violence in America and start acting to save our lives.”

To put things into perspective, 45,000 flowers were placed on the National Mall, which organizers said represents the number of Americans who die from gun violence each year.

President Joe Biden, who was in California when the Washington rally began, said his message to the demonstrators was “keep marching,” adding that he is “mildly optimistic” about legislative negotiations to address gun violence. Biden recently delivered an impassioned address to the nation in which he called for several steps, including raising the age limit for buying assault-style weapons.

Organizers hoped the second March for Our Lives rally would draw as many as 50,000 people to the Washington Monument. While that would be far less than the original 2018 march with more than 200,000 people, they focused this time on smaller marches at an estimated 300 locations.

The youth-led movement created after the Parkland shooting successfully pressured the Republican-dominated Florida state government to enact sweeping gun-control changes. The group did not match that at the national level, but has persisted in advocating for gun restrictions since then, as well as participating in voter registration drives.

The House has passed bills to raise the age limit to buy semi-automatic weapons and establish federal “red flag” laws. But such initiatives have traditionally stalled or been heavily watered down in the Senate. Democratic and Republican senators had hoped to reach agreement this week on a framework for addressing the issue and talked Friday, but they had not announced an accord.

About the Authors:

Ben Kennedy is an Emmy Award-winning Washington Bureau Chief for Local 10 News. He has more than a decade of reporting experience nationwide.