“This isn’t right or left; it’s life or death” echoed throughout the line of protesters as they made their way from Dixie State University’s Dolores Dore Eccles Fine Arts Center to the St. George City Council Saturday.
Across the U.S. people have been participating in school walkouts and March for Our Lives demonstrations after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February, this year’s eighth school shooting and 30th mass shooting.
Cassandra Smith, a sophomore theater major from Mapleton, was inspired to organize the March for Our Lives protest in St. George after reviewing suffragette plays in her theater and society class. Although she wasn’t able to participate in the National School Walkout because it was during spring break, she, along with other classmates, wanted to take to the streets and speak out about gun control.
“In the age of the internet we see both extremes: everyone needs a gun and you can’t do anything to regulate it or all guns should be banned,” Smith said. “Most people don’t think that; they want something in the middle, and that is what we are advocating for. We don’t want to take away guns, but something is wrong.”
After creating the Facebook event, “St. George ‘March For Our Lives,’” over 290 users said they were going or were interested.
Dale Pugmire, an Apple Valley resident, was one of a few hundred people who heard about the event happening on Facebook. Carrying a sign that his wife made for the march, Pugmire said he was alarmed to hear about the type of drills students practice now.
“I was totally shocked to find out that kids nowadays have active shooter drills at their schools, and I never even knew there was such a thing like that,” Pugmire said. “When I was a kid we used to get under our desks for a nuclear attack and now it’s active shooter drills.”
Miriah Elliott, a city council member in Ivins, walked alongside her children as she gripped her stroller handle and held a sign advocating for gun reform. Banning high capacity magazines and bump stocks, running universal background checks, and creating access to affordable mental healthcare were written in black ink across her poster.
As a mother of three, Elliott wants her children to live in a world where they don’t have to constantly worry about potential school shootings.
“It scares me every day that people have very easy access [to guns],” Elliott said. “It is a hard issue, but there are absolutely things that we can do. I know that it is a constitutional right, but it is not unlimited.”
Hannah Milne, a senior health communication major from Salt Lake City, and president of DSU’s Students for Choice Club, also stressed the importance of developing stricter gun laws for the sake of future generations to come.
“When we do decide to have kids we want those kids to live in an environment that is safe, so I am hoping that we can make our gun laws a lot stricter because people are dying,” Milne said.