Joan Merriam: March for all our lives |

Joan Merriam: March for all our lives

This nation hasn’t seen anything like this since the day over 50 years ago that 100,000 people gathered in our nation’s capital to protest the Vietnam War.

There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that Saturday’s incredible March for Our Lives marked a turning point for America. Nearly a million people descended on Washington to say with one voice, enough is enough. Millions of others gathered at more than 800 sister marches throughout the nation and the entire world to echo those same words.

That day, what we heard was the united voice of the young people of this country, standing up for their own lives and speaking up against our national epidemic of gun violence and the chronic inaction of our leaders to address the problem.

It has taken young people to stand up to the power of the gun lobby … to stand up to the adults who tell them to sit down and be quiet … to call the inaction and obstructionism and partisanship and hatred for what it is … to show us all what real courage and real determination look like.

We should all be in awe of these brave young people who have dared to call out our leaders — most of whom have neglected or been too afraid to lead — for their failure to address the issue of gun violence and the obscene presence of weapons of war on our streets. In the five weeks since the Parkland shooting, our young people have taken the lead and seized the power that our representatives have relinquished through their silence, moral impotence and failure to act.

These young citizens have declared that it is time — long past time — to demand that those representatives end their obedience to a gun lobby that plays on deception and irrational fears and baseless phobias.

They have declared it is time to pass rational legislation on comprehensive background checks, on domestic violence restraining orders, on gun show loopholes, on assault-style weapons, on lethal accessories like bump stocks, and on homicidal high-capacity magazines. They have declared, rightly so, that this isn’t a school issue … not a Republican or Democratic issue … not a liberal or conservative issue … but a national issue.

We all, politicians and public alike, have the sacred obligation to follow the example that these young people have set for us and raise our voices in unison to say, enough is enough.

The fight began on Saturday, but it’s up to all of us to make sure it is only the beginning. Ultimately, we are all fighting for our lives.

Joan Merriam lives in Nevada City.

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