[Photo Credit: Caroline Fry, Colorado Common Cause]
On Saturday, March 24, Colorado Common Cause joined thousands of activists at Denver’s March for Our Lives. The public outcry to address gun violence came in response to our country's latest mass shooting, which took place at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14, 2018. Denver’s march was organized and led by a group of Colorado students in solidarity with the larger march that took place in Washington D.C.
The students who organized the march in Denver are advocating for gun policy reform. Their Facebook event stated that the mission and focus of the march was to demand a comprehensive and effective bill be immediately brought before Congress to address gun issues, and that no special interest group or political agenda is more critical than legislation to effectively address gun violence issues in America.
Students are advocating for gun reform so that they may no longer have to live in fear of gun violence. Tay Anderson, one of the students who organized the march, told Westword, “They [students] don't want to have to go to high school in fear of not hearing the last bell ring at the end of the day. Schools are made to protect our children and educate them, not to inflict fear.”
Common Cause Colorado marched with these students because we believe in a people-powered democracy. Youth are an important part of our community, and their voice matters. We believe that students have power and that their voice must be heard to create a more perfect union representative of all citizens.
We also recognize that instead of student voices being heard, it’s the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) voice that has the most influence in our government. The NRA’s employees and PAC have contributed about $23 million directly to federal candidates and parties since 1989, and about $17 million to state candidates and committees since 1990 [source]. As well as direct contributions, the group has spent at least $54 million in independent expenditures during the 2016 federal election cycle. These are often ads supporting its preferred candidates or criticizing its opponents [source]. They also lobby extensively to pursue its agenda.
And even though the NRA hasn’t made a direct monetary contribution to any member of the Colorado General Assembly since 2010, the NRA still remains present in Colorado politics. The group’s federal political action committee, which goes by the name Political Victory Fund (PVF), made contributions from 2012 to 2016 to Colorado’s Senate Majority Fund, which, according to their website, is “dedicated to retaining a Republican majority in the Colorado Senate.” PVF also gave to the NRA Committee to Restore Coloradans’ Rights, a group that also receives contributions from the NRA’s lobbying arm, the Institute for Legislative Action [source].
If every citizen truly had an equal voice in the decisions that affect us, the stricter gun laws that these students and much of America (75% of Americans, according to NPR/Ipsos) wish to see would have already happened. It is time that our government start listening to what citizens want in terms of gun policy—not the NRA.
At the march in Washington D.C, Yolanda Renee King, Martin Luther King Jr.’s nine-year-old granddaughter, said to the crowd, “We are going to be a great generation.” We affirm Yolanda’s statement and encourage America’s youth to keep using their voice.
Office: Colorado Common Cause