A group of teens and more than a hundred supporters staged a “lie-in” outside the White House on Presidents Day to pressure lawmakers to pass tougher gun laws.
The group, dubbed Teens for Gun Reform, had started organizing the event by seeking 17 demonstrators to lie down for three minutes to symbolize how long it took for Nikolas Cruz to gun down 17 students and teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida last week.
“The two of us have organized this protest in solidarity with all of those who were affected by the tragic school shooting in Florida last week,” Eleanor Nuechterlein and Whitney Bowen, the teen organizers, said in a statement. “We call on our national and state legislatures to finally act responsibly and reduce the number of these tragic incidents. It’s essential that we all feel safe in our classrooms.”
Initially, they hoped to have 17 of their closest friends attend the demonstration. But word of the event spread on social media, and it ultimately drew more than a hundred supporters.
Rep. Don Beyer, a Virginia Democrat and a proponent of gun control, was among those who attended the event.
“I was very proud of them,” Beyer said. “The ground was cold and wet. This is a holiday. But, yeah, they’re being politically active.”
“Historically, it’s the old people that participate in the elections and do all the volunteering, so this was great,” he added. “And hopefully it portends a sea change in our attitude toward gun safety legislation.”
Bowen and Nuechterlein organized the event on Facebook, hoping they could send a message to lawmakers and inspire others to advocate for change.
“The ‘lie-in’ itself was powerful, and we are so appreciative of the protesters, friends and media who came,” Bowen said. “We hope that the coverage of today’s event will help promote much-needed change. In the end, this is only the start. We are so inspired by the brave students from Parkland in the wake of this atrocity, and hope that legislators will begin to hear and act upon the voices of our generation.”
Monday’s protest came amid a wave of impassioned calls for gun reform, many of them led by young people.