10-year-old rally participant: ‘If I can be shot, I can have an opinion’

An estimated 800,000 young people, adults and allies descended upon the nation’s capital for the “March for Our Lives” rally on March 24 along Pennsylvania Avenue to stand united for stricter gun control legislation in the wake of the Parkland, Fla., tragedy. Last month, 17 students and faculty from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School were killed by 19-year-old student Nikolas Cruz.

“In a little over six minutes, 17 of our friends were taken from us, 15 were injured and everyone, absolutely everyone in the Douglas community was altered forever,” said Emma González, a Parkland survivor and student leader. Musicians like Ariana Grande, Common and Andra Day took the stage to perform songs, and young leaders from Chicago, Los Angeles and Florida shared their personal experiences with gun violence on the main stage. Out in the crowd, thousands watched and shared their own stories of hope for the future.

“When we go to school they say everyone should feel safe here, but with all these assault rifles and guns, it’s hard to feel safe,” said one 11-year-old boy. Some creative signs displayed red strike-through symbols through assault gun images, and others directly called out the NRA for their inaction on gun regulation and influence on politics. Young people made it clear that they were taking note of which politicians accepted money from the NRA and they would let their voices be heard at the polls.

A 10-year-old boy, who won’t be able to vote until 2026, said even he can be a part of the change he hopes for the country. “If I can be shot,” he said, “I can have an opinion.”