Exiting at Pershing Square, from the Metro, I was encumbered by the electric, inspiring, and empowering atmosphere — all fueled by a need for change. Yet there was still a fear beginning to manifest within me: what if someone brings a gun and opens fire?
If a man possessing a semi-automatic rifle, with malicious intent, can roam the halls of a high school, then it can occur anywhere. Continuing to walk out of the station, my anxiety subsided with the realization that this universal fear is why I am marching. No longer will I tolerate feeling so helpless nor will I wait for my death at the hands of gun violence.
My cousins (12 and 15-years-old) and I woke up early to make posters. One read “arms are for hugging.” Another declared “enough is enough.” “We call B.S.,” said a third. My third cousin (9) had been talking a lot about being afraid of guns at his elementary school. The idea of marching made him nervous, so he stayed at home. I marched for him. No one should ever have to feel that type of fear.
We boarded the Metro heading downtown and assumed our place among tens of thousands of Angelenos representing all ages, races, genders and socio-economic classes.
At 10:12 a.m., the crowd finally began to move as we set out for City Hall. Tremendous cheers emanated from the assembled masses.
As we began to march, everything became so surreal. Instead of finishing homework or hanging out at friend’s house, we have to march for our lives because that is how severe things have become.
“What do we want?” “GUN CONTROL,” the crowd responded. “When do we want it?” “NOW,” they roared. I spotted what would become my favorite sign of the march: “I support your Second Amendment right to carry a single loaded musket.”
With every step I took, it was a step toward a day when my right to live will not be taken away by an AR-15.
Every step I took was one of hope. A step towards a day when I won’t locate the exits before I set my books down in a classroom.
With every step I took, it was a step toward a day when I no longer jump, at a paralyzing echo, when someone drops a textbook in class.
Every step I took was a step toward a day when politicians’ policies and votes won’t be driven by NRA money.
With every step I took, it was a step toward a day when I will no longer see the faces of our youth, broadcasted on television and labeled as “Victims of Another School Shooting.”
Every step I took was a step toward a day when my little cousin doesn’t go to school afraid.
We will continue our fight to live until we are respected enough to initiate gun firmer gun control laws. We no longer have a sense of detachment from the tribulations of gun violence — we are now at the center of it all.
This is only the beginning.
*Editor’s note: This article was collaboratively written by Sarah Wang (sophomore, Arcadia High School) and Lily Richman (junior, Brentwood School). To preserve the individuality of both voices, Richman’s contributions are italicized.