Written by Dr. Bich-May Nguyen, MD, MPH, FAAFP, Houston, Texas
I have been inspired by the teenagers from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. They suffered a terrible tragedy that no child should suffer. Instead of recovering quietly and fading from the news cycle, the students led over 3000 school walk outs and over 800 international marches within six weeks.
In Houston, almost 15,000 people gathered in downtown for a rally and marched to Senator Rafael Cruz’s office. Local students from elementary schools through college spoke and implored the adults to do what they could to protect them. They spoke and marched alongside Mayor Sylvester Turner, Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, and Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo.
Marchers signed petitions to ban assault weapons, restrict the sale of high-capacity magazines, and strengthen background checks for firearm purchases.
One of the tables at the park entrance was dedicated to registering voters. Our state has created many restrictions to make it harder for people to vote. There is no online voter registration. Voters cannot register on the same day at a polling location.
I worked the crowd as a volunteer deputy voter registrar (VDVR) to register voters. It was a tough job since many attendees were engaged voters or were too young to vote. Yet, I did find people who had recently moved or become naturalized citizens.
By being out there, the VDVRs serve as a resource to remind people to vote, talk about election dates, and encourage people to take their advocacy further.
Ultimately, what we do after the march is how we demonstrate power. About 37% of Americans own guns. However, the majority of Americans agree with common-sense gun laws.
Ordinary people can ask candidates running for office how they will work to end gun violence. Then, campaign for the candidates who will do everything they can to keep our communities safe and secure.
Voters can register and elect candidates who will back bills to make it harder for felons or people with severe mental illness to buy guns. Voters can remind their friends to vote, too.
This is how we can thank the students who have worked tirelessly and publicly to advocate to end gun violence. Do what they’re not old enough to do yet: Get out the vote.
Read More from Dr. Nguyen:
Some States Issue a License to Kill, by Bich-May Mguyen, MD, MPH, Policy Prescriptions (2/17/2018)
Why is it easier in Texas to buy a gun than get an abortion? Women should have the opportunity to make best decisions for themselves, by Dr. Bich-May Nguyen, Houston Chronicle (8/5/2017)