Will the ban on assault rifles stop mass shootings

Hundreds of thousands demonstrate against gun violence"Protect children, not weapons!"

In the US capital Washington, hundreds of thousands demonstrated against gun violence and for stricter gun laws. Many celebrities also answered the call. The posters read, among other things: "Protect the children, not the guns" or "The NRA has blood on their hands". There were more than 800 solidarity events worldwide.

Organizers include survivors of the mid-February massacre at a school in Parkland, Florida. The motto of the "March for our Lives" is "Never again". On Twitter, organizers called for an end to gun violence and mass shootings in schools and communities. The students demand, among other things, a complete ban on assault rifles in the hands of civilians and a general increase in the age of weapons purchases to 21 years.

Six minutes and 20 seconds for 17 lives

Emma Gonzalez, who became the face of the protest movement through a combative speech, gave another speech and was silent for minutes - speech and silence lasted exactly six minutes and 20 seconds - as long as it took the Parkland shooter to kill 17 people at her school kill. Then she said, "Fight for your life before someone else has to!"

"I have a dream - of a world without weapons"

The nine-year-old granddaughter of civil rights activist Martin Luther King also spoke at the central rally in Washington. Yolanda Renee King said she had a dream, referring to her grandfather's famous speech: of a world without weapons.

Most of the demonstrators and almost all of the speakers were high school students. Cameron Kasky, from Parkland, Florida, said in his speech, "we are the change". And 17-year-old Lauren Tilley from California said, "we're the ones who are scared of going to school every day". It could not go on as before.

"If our leaders behave like children, children must lead"

About 20,000 people came to a rally near Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. There were similar protests in several hundred other cities in the United States, including Chicago, Boston, Atlanta and Los Angeles, as well as in many other countries. In New York, the hometown of US President Trump, protesters held up self-painted signs in front of the Trump Tower. One of them read "If our leaders act like children, children must lead". Chelsea Clinton tweeted that she was more than inspired.

In Germany there were solidarity demonstrations in Munich, Berlin and Hamburg, among others. People are said to have gathered in China too.

March For Our Lives in Hamburg (dpa / Markus Scholz)

Trump is in Florida speaking of "brave young Americans"

US President Trump announced a package of measures for school safety this month under the pressure of the protests, but practically nothing to tighten gun laws. Apparently with a view to the mass protest, the US government announced a ban on rapid-fire attachments on Friday. The new categorization would de facto prohibit the devices that converted a semi-automatic weapon into a submachine gun with continuous fire.

Trump himself wasn't in Washington. He spends the weekend at his property in Mar-a-Lago. However, the White House released a statement saying, "We applaud the many brave young Americans who are exercising their constitutional right under Article 1 (freedom of expression) today. Protecting our children is a top priority for the President."

March for Our Lives - Washington (dpa / abaca / Olivier Douliery)

Many celebrities support the protests

The protesters also received a lot of encouragement from celebrities. Miley Cyrus, Ariana Grande and Jennifer Hudson performed in Washington. Actor George Clooney wrote: "You make me proud of my country again." Miley Cyrus tweeted a selfie from the Washington demonstration and a call to hear a song by survivors from Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.

Former US President Barack Obama, who had unsuccessfully advocated stricter gun laws during his tenure, praised their "perseverance, determination and solidarity" in a letter to the Parkland students. They have helped "awaken the nation's conscience". In a tweet, Obama wrote that nothing could stop millions of votes calling for change.

Former US President Bill Clinton said the country should be grateful to its students and their peers. Actor George Takei, known as Sulu from Star Trek, thanked the students. He tweeted, "Thanks to everyone who marched today. You are making a difference and saving lives. The young people who lead this movement inspire me every day."

Political scientist Christian Hacke sees the large demonstrations as a sign "that civil society in the United States is functioning". Hacke said on Deutschlandfunk that the young people could take on a pioneering role and increase the pressure on the establishment in Washington "and these machinations between politics and economic interests that support violence". Firearms kill more than 30,000 people in the United States each year.

(ren / mw)