In the aftermath of the July 4th mass shooting in Highland Park, Illinois, demonstrators gathered in front of the United States Capitol on Wednesday in support of stricter gun laws. Keep an eye on
The “March Fourth” rally was expected to draw up to 1,000 people, according to organizers. The protest is part of a larger call to action in the aftermath of recent mass shootings, most recently the attack in Highland Park, where a gunman climbed to a rooftop in the wealthy Chicago suburb and opened fire on people watching a Fourth of July parade.
Seven people were killed, and dozens more were injured. Organizers argue that harsher policies are needed to stop the steady stream of mass killings. According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been 333 mass shootings this year.
Families and survivors from Uvalde, Texas, where a gunman opened fire in an elementary school in May, killing 21, were expected to attend the rally on Wednesday.
On GoFundMe, organizers raised more than $200,000 for the rally, which helped cover travel and lodging costs for survivors and victims’ families.
Carolyn Pryor, one of the rally’s organizers, told USA TODAY that organizers and survivors of the Highland Park shooting met with legislators on Tuesday to discuss stricter gun control laws. The group met with Democratic lawmakers from Illinois, including Senators Tammy Duckworth and Dick Durbin, as well as Senator Chris Murphy. Murphy’s term began as his state was reeling from the mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012, which killed 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary School. They also met with Republican Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.
Following the Uvalde attack, President Joe Biden signed a bipartisan gun control bill into law, requiring more thorough background checks on gun buyers under the age of 21. The legislation, which was passed on June 25, has been hailed as one of the most comprehensive gun control measures in three decades. Survivors from Highland Park were also present at a Monday event commemorating the legislation’s passage.
However, rally organizers say that while the legislation is a step forward, it is insufficient. They want stricter background checks and an outright ban on assault weapons. The suspect in the Highland Park attack legally obtained a weapon arsenal prior to the attack, despite warning signs about his mental state, exposing flaws in the system and the limits of state laws.
Following the shooting, members of the Highland Park community mobilized, according to Pryor. She also stated that Highland Park organizers have made contact with leading gun control organizations such as Moms Demand Action and Everytown For Gun Safety.
Lara Chaimson, 39, planned to attend the event in Washington with a group of other Highland Park survivors.
“These mothers are prepared to mobilize,” Chaimson stated. “I believe we can persuade those who disagree that there is a compelling reason to ban assault rifles.”
Chaimson was a block away from where the shooting occurred, at the Fourth of July parade with her husband and two young daughters.
Thousands of gun control advocates marched in Washington, New York, Chicago, and other cities across the country in June for the March for Our Lives demonstration in support of stricter gun control laws.
At the time, the country was reeling from mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas, and a grocery store in Buffalo, New York. Both occurred in May. Chaimson is concerned that Americans will quickly move on, distracted by their own lives and the possibility of another tragedy dominating the news cycle.
“To be honest, that happens to me the majority of the time when I read stories like this.” But, in the grand scheme of things, this is something that is snowballing. “It happens quite frequently,” she explained. “It didn’t seem possible that it would sink in. But it happened.”
Natalie Lorentz, 34, attended the Highland Park parade with her husband, mother, and three children. The couple to their right was shot and killed, leaving their 2-year-old son orphaned. Like Chaimson, Lorentz said she’s trying to channel her trauma, grief and anger into making change.
Lorentz said the group’s two-day trip to Washington is only the beginning of their advocacy campaign.