By Jana Julian | Staff Writer
Following the National Walkout on March 14, hundreds of thousands of people across the nation rallied together Saturday to march against gun violence, including more than 5,000 community members, according to organizers, showing up to the March for Our Lives event at the Honolulu State Capitol.
This march was one of more than 800 planned marches around the world, that were inspired by the survivors of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas School in Parkland, Fla., and have been led by students across the country who are tired of waiting for the government to take action on gun reform laws in America.
“This movement was started by students, by children, by teenagers,” said Monica Kenny, a junior at Sacred Hearts Academy said during her speech to the thousands of protesters that showed up. “Those same children will be voting in the next election. So, to those politicians, senators, and congressmen and to [NRA spokeswoman] Dana Loesch, I hope you’re scared.”
The purpose of this march was to stop the epidemic of school shootings and to urge government officials to take a stricter stance on gun laws. Some community members and leaders that attended the event are hoping that other states would adopt gun laws similar to those in Hawai′i, which are among the strictest in the nation.
“I’m here because I’m really inspired by all the young people speaking out,” said Kaniela Ing, a candidate for Hawaiʻi’s 1st congressional district. “They’re simply telling the politicians that they want to feel safe in their schools, they don’t want to worry about coming home alive. In Hawaiʻi actually, we have some of the strongest gun laws in the nation, and to no surprise, we have the safest city in America, right here in Honolulu. … I think we’re setting an example of what the rest of the nation can follow if they want to be safe like we are, right here, in Hawaiʻi.”
The march, which occurred from 10:30 a.m to noon, ended with a rally in which people were able to come up and speak about how they have been impacted by gun violence and what they hoped to achieve through this movement. One community member shared her story about how she had lost her son to gun violence and how she was inspired to take on the legal system.
“My son was gunned down in front of my home [in] 2011 , and he was brutally killed,” said Nonohe Botelho, from Kaneohe, during her speech to protesters. “My husband performed CPR on him, my husband is a paramedic, but to no avail because he was shot at point blank. I have been fighting since 2011 to get laws changed in the state of Hawaiʻi including changing the severity of first-degree murder because children [as victims] are not included in first-degree murder in the state of Hawai′i.”
During the rally on Saturday, students also spoke from UH Mānoa, Kamehameha Schools, Roosevelt High School, La Pietra and Sacred Hearts Academy.
“I’m am tired of seeing our future leaders and innovators, people who could get us to Mars, people who could cure the common cold, just dying and being victims and becoming statistics,” said Jun Shin, a freshman at UH Mānoa and event organizer, to the crowd.
While listening to impassioned speeches given by students and community members, people had the opportunity to register to vote so they could become a part of the change and use their voices.
“It is upon us to get involved, to stay involved, to change politics as usual,” said Cameron Sato, a legislative aide at State Capitol. “Vote, participate in politics, participate in a campaign where the candidate says, gun violence has to end.”