More than 100 people gathered Saturday afternoon at the Castillo de San Marcos for the March for Our Lives rally against gun violence in America.
Speakers included a teacher, a student and a woman who has lost loved ones to gun violence.
The March for Our Lives grew out of a gun reform movement launched in the aftermath of the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland.
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Sadie Burleson, a high school student from Jacksonville, read a poem she wrote when she was 13 in honor of the victims of Parkland.
“Seventeen people lost their lives. Are guns really worth it? It’s up to you,” she said.
The protest was one of 400 nationwide. In addition to St. Augustine, rallies were held in at least two dozen other Florida cities.
Fernandina Beach resident Jerry Eiserman is a gun owner and he said he came to the rally “because enough is enough.”
“I have three grandkids and one on the way, and I just can’t see leaving them a world like this,” he said. “You know, the constitutional issues are over. It’s now a public health issue.”
29 dead in 2 recent shootings
Saturday’s rallies follow a May 24 massacre when an 18-year-old man shot and killed 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. On May 14, another 18-year-old gunman killed 10 black shoppers and employees in what officials described as a hate crime at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York.
The House of Representatives voted last Wednesday to raise the minimum age from 18 to 21 to purchase a semi-automatic rifle and ban the sale of high-capacity magazines, according to a USA Today report.
The bill, known as the Protecting Our Children Act, passed the House by a majority partisan vote of 223 to 204. It will now go to the Senate where Republicans have enough votes to block it. and it should not be adopted, according to USA Today. A bipartisan group of senators is working on other measures focused on red flag laws, mental health and school safety.
Frank Fernandez of the Daytona Beach News-Journal contributed to this story.