Gearing up for local elections in November, the Binghamton University chapter of March for Our Lives (MFOL) held a general body meeting to discuss gun violence prevention and the importance of researching candidates’ stances on such policies.
The meeting, held Wednesday night in the University Union, tied in with the national organization’s mission to “harness the power of young people across the country to fight for sensible gun violence prevention policies that save lives,” according to their official website. The MFOL E-Board led the meeting using a PowerPoint presentation titled “How to be a gun sense voter” and gave tips on how to look out for the candidates and policies individual voters want representing them, particularly when it comes to preventing gun violence across the nation.
Jasmine Baez, organizing coordinator for the BU chapter of MFOL and a sophomore majoring in psychology, said she thinks learning how to be a “gun sense voter,” meaning someone who votes for and supports candidates who advocate for gun violence prevention in elections, is important even at the local level.
“I feel like students, especially those who have not voted in a presidential election before, should have the right tools in learning how to identify candidates who put gun violence prevention as a top priority,” Baez said. “Their votes matter so much more than they think, and I want them to realize that they have the ability to really make a difference.”
Bennett Owens, founder and president of the BU chapter of MFOL and a junior majoring in political science, said the primary purpose of the discussion was to inform students on how they can support the gun violence prevention movement by voting. He reminded the attendees of upcoming deadlines: Voter registration ends Oct. 11, absentee ballots are due by Oct. 29, early voting is available from Oct. 26 to Nov. 3 and general election voting is on Nov. 5.
“I believe it’s important to support the gun violence prevention movement because every day, 96 people die from gun violence in this country,” Owens said. “Gun violence is an epidemic in this country and we must act now to end it.”
In attendance was Raquel Pereira, an undeclared sophomore, who said that although she already felt passionate toward the gun violence prevention movement, the meeting provided good information about how to research candidates with like-minded policy concerns.
“I feel like it’s important because kids going to school shouldn’t have to worry about the possibility of being shot — they should only be focused on their learning,” Pereira said.
Julia Saltzman, organizing director for the BU chapter of MFOL and a sophomore majoring in philosophy, politics and law, said the national organization encourages civic action and engagement through peaceful methods. Baez said she agreed that there are ways for students to get involved, such as being a member of MFOL.
“Thousands of people are affected by gun violence every year,” Baez said. “It’s important to defend all of those who were impacted, and show them that there are people that want to see a change.”