March for Our Lives unveils bold new proposal for gun control legislation

“It is an appropriate and bold response to the massive amount of gun deaths we have every single year in the United States right now,” Parkland survivor David Hogg said.

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By Safia Samee Ali

Student activists from the March for Our Lives movement took a tangible stand against gun violence Wednesday by unveiling a bold new plan they say will cut gun-related deaths by half over the next decade.

The six-point comprehensive proposal called the “Peace Plan for America” aims to tackle not only the regulatory aspects of gun ownership but also seeks to empower young people within the political arena, according to the organization, which was started by the survivors of the 2018 deadly mass shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The attack took the lives of 17 people.

The plan comes in the wake of the nation's most recent mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, as well as Chicago’s most violent weekend earlier this month.

“It is an appropriate and bold response to the massive amount of gun deaths we have every single year in the United States right now,” David Hogg, a Parkland survivor and one of the co-founders of March for Our Lives, told NBC News. “We need actual federal policy and a plan.”

The organization took a leading role in the national debate surrounding gun control over the last year by promoting grassroots efforts through youth mobilization and organizing protest marches.

Among many of the plan’s points, branded under the acronym C.H.A.N.G.E, is a proposal to raise the national standard for gun ownership, create a national licensing and registry system, enact a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and create a national gun buyback program.

The group also recommends creating a position for a national director of gun violence prevention who would report directly to the president and whose sole duty would be to combat gun violence.

In an effort to fast-track the next generation of voters, the plan also argues for automatic voter registration at age 18.

“We brought together people from all over the country. We brought together survivors, policymakers, real game-changers in this movement who are talking about gun violence prevention. The peace plan we’ve created out of those sentiments and the same people who are on the ground marching, really came through,” said Tyah Roberts, another Parkland survivor and leader with the March for Our Lives movement.

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March for Our Lives organizers say legislators should recognize the gun violence epidemic as a “public health crisis” and “declare a national emergency” in order to properly combat the issue, which is receiving pushback from pro-gun advocates.

The organization also said its looking for government leaders to endorse and partner with the plan, which is one of the most far-reaching gun legislation proposals in the political arena.

“It’s not a plan looking to get Democrats or Republicans elected, it’s looking to get Americans who are morally just leaders elected that care about people dying across the country on a daily basis,” Hogg said.

So far, it’s received the thumbs-up by one Democratic presidential candidate, former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke.

“I support their Peace Plan For A Safer America—and I call on everyone else in this race to do the same,” he said via Twitter.

Other legislators have also shown support.

"March for Our Lives continues to show that a new generation of survivors and activists are leading the way on the issue of gun violence," Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., said in a tweet.

Rep. Joe Kennedy, D-Mass., tweeted, "It’s time to follow the lead of @AMarch4OurLives and a new generation that will put forth bold ideas to keep our schools, concerts, churches, temples, stores & neighborhoods safe."

Hogg said in order to push its plan forward, the group will work with whomever it can, including President Donald Trump who Hogg said would be welcomed if he ever wanted to meet with the March for Our Lives members.

But Hogg added that he's skeptical of any initiative by the president, since he has wavered on following through with any of the polices he's talked about after each mass shooting.

“When Donald Trump goes out after Parkland and says he wants to ban assault weapons, and raise the age to 21, and support universal background checks and then backtracks and then another mass shooting happens and he does the same thing, we need to show him that that is not okay,” he said.

Just a few weeks after coming out publicly for the expansion of background checks, Trump shifted his stance more toward blaming mental illness rather than easy access to guns for the series of mass shootings.

"We have very, very strong background checks right now," Trump said Tuesday. "But we have sort of missing areas, and areas that don't complete the whole circle. And we're looking at different things, and I have to tell you that it is a mental problem, and I've said it 100 times. It's not the gun that pulls the trigger, it's the person that pulls the trigger."

But the student-led organization is hopeful that its plan will be a good starting point for sensible, concrete gun legislation.

"All we ask is if you don't agree with us, or if you don't agree with our plan, then come up with your own bold plan," Roberts said. "That's all we've ever asked from our leaders."