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March For Our Lives Hawai’i #NeverAgain

Noe Tanigawa
Noe Tanigawa

Today, Jaelynn Rose Willey, 16, died.  She was standing in the hallway of her Maryland high school on Tuesday when she was shot with a semi-automatic handgun. On an average day in America, seven children and teens are killed with guns.  HPR’s Noe Tanigawa reports, since the Parkland, Florida shootings which took 17 young lives, a youth movement has taken root against gun violence. 

Cpl. Jericho Crutcher
Credit Cpl. Jericho Crutcher
The M16-A4 Service Rifle is a light-weight, air-cooled, gas-operated, automatic weapon that recruits will use to learn discipline through basic drill movements as well as the fundamentals of marksmanship throughout Marine recruit training.

Eight March for Our Lives events are planned for tomorrow, Saturday, across Hawai’i, including a rally at 9am at Ala Moana Park and a rally and march from the State Capitol that begins at 10am.  For events on Kaua'i, Hawai'i Island, Maui, and elsewhere on O'ahu, just put your zip code in here:

“You take both of your feet, and you just jump in!”

That’s how Sarah Catino, a University of Hawai’i Manoa sociology senior, describes starting a March for Our Lives effort on Oahu.  She hopes young people will turn out to demand strict gun regulation and an end to gun violence around the nation.    

Catino:  There’s definitely days that, and it's a lot of the time, you kind of hear a door open to our classroom and   when the door opens your like, aauugh, and the hair stands up on your neck a little bit.  It's a thought that you have when you walk into a classroom or movie theater or concert or, anywhere really.

In America, there have been shootings on school campuses since the first one recorded during Pontiac’s War in Pennsylvania in 1764.  There were a dozen or so every decade, with the numbers inching upward, then an increase in the 1970’s to 30 that decade.  There were 39 school shooting incidents in the 1980’s---then in the 90’s, there were 62.  Seven years into this decade, 148 school shootings represent a steep increase.

Catino:  Why are we living like this?  This is absolutely asinine.  Why are we doing it?

“To me this feels like something different.”  Jun Shin is a freshman at UH Manoa.

Shin:  From reading history books, just like you know a long time ago like the youth empowered the civil rights movement and they helped to lower the voting age.  Once again the youth are standing up.  I feel like that is the catalyst.  We're creating what we think is right.

Fibonacci Blue
Credit Fibonacci Blue
The March for Our Lives Student protest for gun control March 7, 2018, in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Catino:  If the people in power aren't going to do anything to be that change you know we're going to do it ourselves and that's what a democracy is.  You know the well ran dry.  We’re not reaping any of the benefits of this American Dream.  The American Dream is like fast food and getting shot in your classroom.  We're willing to change that, I think, and instead of just sitting around and being like, oh okay.

What is the American dream right now to you guys?

“I didn’t grow up in the era of like, the huge American Dream, coming to America, and blah blah.”  Sacred Hearts Academy Junior, Monica Kenny, was born in 2001.

Kenny:  I think this moment right now like this Revolution that’s being started, characterizes what I feel would be the American Dream is to be, by the people, for the people, advocating for the people, for our rights, for equality for everyone.

Catino:  John Lewis wrote a book, I was reading it, and one of his twelve tenets of how to be a social activist was, have patience, things do change.  The Freedom Riders, when they rode in to Mississippi, three of them were murdered, and their bodies buried and houses were blown up.  They were high school and college students in Freedom Summer in Mississippi that went down there to the most segregated place in the country, and fought some of the toughest opposition they ever fought.  And they went to the Democratic National Committee and they lost that time around!

Catino:  But in 2018 there are more Black officials in Mississippi than any other state in the country.  In twenty years if we’re sending our kids to school, we want it to be different.  And if it takes that long, okay.  But I hope it doesn’t.

Kenny:  I personally don’t care if it’s just me and you two shouting from the rooftops every single night about gun control, I personally vow just never to stop caring about this and I hope other people feel the same way too.

Kenny and her friend, Taylor McKenzie, will join with others at Sacred Hearts Academy for a commemoration on April 20th, 2018, the 19th anniversary of the Columbine shootings.

How long can you hold on?

Catino:  Forever if we need too.  She’s not even in college yet.  I’m going to law school next.  One foot in front of the other, that’s it.  That’s constant.  Little progress, little steps, do something every day.  And if you don’t do something positive, at least don’t do anything negative.  Do no harm, take no sh**.

The students say Hawai’i’s gun laws are a model for the country.  This legislative session, they support Senate Bill 2046, SD 1, which would ban “multi-burst trigger activators” and devices that modify weapons to simulate automatic gunfire. They also support House Bill 1908, which would give disqualified gun owners less time to turn weapons in. 

In Hawai’i, all firearms must be registered.  To buy a firearm in Hawai’i, the   applicants must be 21 years old, and obtain a permit from the police department.  There’s a 14-day waiting period to allow for background checks on addiction, violent crimes, or serious mental illness.

Marches are scheduled on four islands tomorrow, 3/24/18--- and Maui’s got an evening concert to wrap up their event.  Find the event nearest you on the March for Our Lives website.

Noe Tanigawa covered art, culture and ideas for two decades at Hawaiʻi Public Radio.
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