Hundreds of American citizens in Israel will be joined by three students who survived the Valentine’s Day school shooting in Parkland, Florida, in a rally for stricter US gun control laws in front of the US embassy in Tel Aviv on Friday.
Organizers said the three survivors of the February 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz was accused of killing 17 students and staff, will join demonstrators on the beach promenade outside the embassy at 1 p.m.. The students were not individually named.
The rally is in support of the March for Our Lives demonstration which will take place on Saturday in Washington DC and is one of over 800 events planned around the world. Over one million people, including many celebrities, are expected to attend the demonstration on Pennsylvania Avenue.
Marni Mandell, the organizer of the rally, said in a statement, “American citizens and students in Israel, Pantsuit Nation Israel, Democrats Abroad-Israel, and survivors of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are standing together to stop the epidemic of mass shootings in the United States by advocating for stronger gun control laws.”
Since the massacre, Stoneman Douglas students have been at the forefront of a push to tighten gun restrictions and protect schools.
They have led rallies and lobbied lawmakers in Washington and Florida’s capital, Tallahassee. Last Wednesday, tens of thousands of students around the US walked out of their classrooms to demand action on gun violence and school safety. Stoneman Douglas students fanned out Monday to discuss the marches with media outlets in New York, including NBC’s “Today” show and “CBS This Morning.”
Amid the wave of activism, Florida passed a law curbing young peoples’ access to rifles; the NRA has sued to try to block it. Some major US retailers decided to curb the sale of assault-style rifles or stop selling firearms to people younger than 21.
But Congress has shown little appetite for new gun regulations. US President Donald Trump at one point proposed raising the minimum age for buying an assault rifle to 21 but then backed off, citing a lack of political support.
The Republican president has since released a school safety plan that includes strengthening the federal background check system and helping states pay for firearms training for teachers, while assigning the buying-age issue to a commission to study.
A petition associated with Saturday’s march calls for banning sales of assault weapons and large-capacity ammunition magazines, as well as tightening background checks.
Beyond making a statement, Saturday’s marches aim to make political change by registering and mobilizing people to vote.
But the students insist their aim isn’t partisan: “We’re just trying to make sure that morally just people are running this country,” Stoneman Douglas senior Ryan Deitsch told the AP.
As soon-to-be voters, the students say they’re here to stay in the public debate.
“We are not just a presence on Twitter. We are not just some social media fad. We’re not like Tide Pods,” Deitsch said, referring to the laundry detergent packets that recently sparked a dangerous social-media-fueled trend of teenagers eating them.
“We’re trying to push this idea that we have a voice, that people can speak out, and that that voice should be heard,” Deitsch said.