A former Titusville man was one of several thousands across the globe to participate in the March For Our Lives protest that took place on Saturday, in areas ranging from Pittsburgh, where Zahn marched, to Washington D.C., to Japan.
Andrew Zahn said he and his wife, who is a high school teacher, met up with some friends to attend the protest in Pittsburgh, part of a nationwide effort to advocate for stricter gun laws and keep schools safe by preventing another tragedy like the school shooting that happened in Parkland, Fla., when 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz shot and killed 17 students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
He said Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto estimated approximately 30,000 people attended the march in the city. Zahn said of those 30,000, he only saw one counter protestor.
“At the march, there were volunteers helping people register to vote,” he said. “A big step toward getting better gun laws is to vote out the lawmakers that are controlled by the NRA and voting in those who aren’t.”
While Zahn’s wife works with high school kids on a daily basis, he said he has also worked with students in high school and middle school for a large part of his life, and the thought of these children being afraid at school is upsetting.
“My wife is a high school teacher, and she shouldn’t have to go to work every day hoping that a tragedy like Parkland doesn’t make its way to her school,” he said. “These kids shouldn’t have to be afraid, and shouldn’t have to wonder if the next school shooter drill isn’t going to be a drill.”
Marches across the nation pushed not only for people to get out and vote for legislators that would take action, but for current legislators to hear the voices of their constituents and proceed accordingly. Zahn said he felt it was time for action, and that “thoughts and prayers” would not suffice.
He said that he felt those who support the NRA and the Second Amendment had the wrong idea about the march and what people are asking for in terms of gun control. He said that it wasn’t about stripping gun owners of their guns, but keeping military grade weapons out of schools and off the streets.
Zahn said he felt many of those who are against the movement the Parkland students have started have become so caught up in defending the constitution that they have forgotten that an amendment, or to amend something, means to change it.
“It was made to be adapted for the times we live in, as it was with prohibition and voting rights,” he said. “This is no different.”
While the Parkland students have managed to spark a movement that has garnered media attention on a global front, Zahn said the march showed him just how powerful the youth are and how much weight their voices carry.
“It was moving not only to see such a successful event organized completely by high school students, but to also hear those students speak so eloquently and so passionately about progressive change so desperately needed,” he said. “I realized that these students are our future, and that our future looks pretty darn good.”
Dodd can be reached by email, at firstname.lastname@example.org.