A movement was born after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting on Valentine’s Day in 2018. Students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas were outraged at what they had gone through, as well as the lack of legal protection for their lives. This movement became known as March For Our Lives (MFOL).
According to its website, the organization wants “To harness the power of young people across the country to fight for sensible gun violence prevention policies that save lives.”
MFOL is an organization that lobbies for effective change against senseless gun violence. Chapters of the organization have popped up all over the United States, including Binghamton University, allowing for more youth to become involved in creating a safer environment for themselves and their peers. Following the shooting, millions came together all over the United States to “March For Our Lives,” protesting against violence and lobbying for change.
Bennett Owens, a senior double-majoring in history and political science and president of the BU chapter of MFOL, elaborated the movement’s mission.
“We advocate for gun violence prevention legislation and policies and we educate people on civic engagement,” Owens said.
The organization works to end senseless acts of gun violence, pledging to do their part in never letting another life be lost as a result of it. They hope to accomplish this by bringing about stricter gun laws through activism and education. BU’s chapter organizes debate watch parties, vigilances and voter registration drives. The organization is bipartisan, which allows for its focus to remain solely on the goal of creating a safer America.
Chloe Levine, a junior majoring in linguistics, is a member of the media and production team for the BU chapter of MFOL. She said the nonpartisanship of the organization helps to focus on the goal of enacting safer gun control measures.
“The organization is nonpartisan, to get just people civically involved and active, to get them to vote and get more involved in the political process,” Levine said. “The coexistence of two parties actually working together with different ideologies, but just coming together and actually figuring out solutions and policies to these issues.”
While the MFOL chapter for BU is active and has been running on campus for two years, it has not been chartered by the Student Association (SA), which can affect funding and the organization’s longevity. However, this does not stop MFOL from taking proactive steps in making sure the organization fulfills its goals.
“The [SA] office told us that we wouldn’t be able to get chartered because the insurance that they provide would not cover us because we’re too high risk because we’re a political organization,” Owens said. “Honestly, we’re able to do a lot without being chartered, like putting posters up and we are able to reserve rooms. It’s not too big of an obstacle”.
The organization has created events like phone banking and lobbying for local and state politicians to support policies that will help to end violence, as well as debate watch parties like the one that took place last week, which MFOL hosted in collaboration with BU’s chapter of NYPIRG. The goal of these events is to create a more informed and civically engaged youth population.
“We help bring an opportunity for everyone to watch the debates together and kind of create a community around watching that as well as bringing in some politicians like Ben Reynolds, who is a trustee for Johnson City and Conrad Taylor, who was a city councilman in Binghamton,” Owens said. “They spoke to us about the importance of civic engagement about youth civic engagement specifically because they were the youngest politicians in New York state.”
Next month, MFOL is hosting a virtual “Artivism” event. Artists from BU as well as all over the United States have submitted their art that was created in an effort to help stop gun violence. The event was originally planned for last spring but had to be postponed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. It will now take place on Nov. 8.