Following a Sunday shooting in Jacksonville, Florida that left at least three people, including the gunman, dead and several others injured, student activists—galvanized in the wake of the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February—are planning to protest Tuesday afternoon at the offices of Republican senators backed by the National Rifle Association (NRA).
"Those who take money from the NRA—whether they are a senator, congressman, or failed sitcom actress—side [with] a negligent industry that has made gun violence an American staple."
—Matt Deitsch, March For Our LivesJust hours after the Jacksonville shooting, 15-year-old Rebecca Heimbrock of Middletown, Maryland tweeted: "In light of Jacksonville, on Tuesday @ noon we are sitting in at the offices of senators that have taken money from the NRA. We are TIRED of the BS. The only way to take down the NRA is to keep the pressure high."
Heimbrock's call for Tuesday afternoon protests quickly spread virally across the social media network, with a retweet from David Hogg, who survived the February shooting in Parkland, Florida, and since then has gained national attention for his activism promoting stricter gun laws.
Friends in D.C. If you have time— David Hogg (@davidhogg111) August 26, 2018
This is on Tuesday at noon!
This is a direct action to demand change. https://t.co/r1cW5yIPHV
Protests are reportedly planned for the offices of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) as well as Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Marco Rubio (R-Florida), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), who have garnered high praise and substantial support from the NRA's political action committee.
The Guardian reports that Heimbrock already has confirmed at least two speakers for Tuesday: "one student who had lost her cousin at a school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas, in May, and another student from Great Mills High School in Maryland, the site of a smaller school shooting in March."
Heimbrock, who has attended a pair of sit-ins in Washington, D.C. and helped organize a protest earlier this month outside the NRA's headquarters in Virginia, told the Guardian she is "cautiously optimistic" that the youth-led movement—which has included mass efforts to register young voters—will lead to more victories in the upcoming midterms for candidates who support tougher gun laws.
"I want to believe that people are hearing student voices," she said, "but I'm also worried that people are going to assume that there's this big blue wave, and they're not going to bother to go out to the polls."
"This is about politicians that have chosen NRA money over lives," she added on Twitter. "It's not partisan. It's life or death."
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This is about politicians that have chosen NRA money over lives. It’s not partisan. It’s life or death. Join us as we send the message to those who prioritize profit over lives, we will vote you out despite your political party— Rebecca Heimbrock (@radishrebecca) August 27, 2018
Heimbrock was far from the only young activist to turn to social media on Sunday to call out lawmakers for their continued failure to curb gun violence across the country. Survivors of the Parkland shooting as well as family members of survivors and victims tweeted messages directed at elected officials and the NRA:
.@marcorubio— David Hogg (@davidhogg111) August 26, 2018
How many mass shootings in your state will it take for you to do something?
To NRA and every member of the house and senate who takes their money and refuses to protect our rights, you are done. Enough of your BS and enough of the bullshit that this is about the 2nd amendment. This is about our rights to life and because of you people are dying everyday.— Fred Guttenberg (@fred_guttenberg) August 26, 2018
Those who take money from the NRA — Whether they are a Senator, Congressman or failed sitcom actress — side w/ a negligent industry that has made gun violence an American staple.— Matt Deitsch (@MattxRed) August 27, 2018
They claim this is the price of Freedom when they are the ones getting paid and our kids are dying.
Others expressed sadness and frustration, tweeting with the hashtag #AnotherFLShooting:
The protest plans come less than a week after a New York Times report that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is considering using public funds to arm teachers, sparking alarm among lawmakers, educators, parents, students, and gun control advocates. After the Parkland shooting, President Donald Trump was widely ridiculed for repeatedly expressing his support for giving teachers guns.