March For Our Lives Organizers Reflect On Past Year

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FT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – One year ago Thursday, 17 people lost their lives when a gunman opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

The tragedy not only transformed the community but also the country, giving way to the student-fueled March for our Lives movement dedicated to addressing gun violence.

“There’s not a day that goes by that I’m not thinking about all this,” said Matt Deitsch whose younger brother Ryan graduated from Douglas High last year.

For the past year, Deitsch and Charlie Mirsky have channeled their grief into a mission.

“Even when March For Our Lives was in its infant stage, I knew something big was going to happen,” said Mirsky.

And it did.

More than a million people around the country demonstrated in the weeks after the Parkland shooting demanding change.

“We took that moment and now it’s about mobilizing and organizing every single day,” said Mirsky.

From road tours and town halls to voter registration drives and lobbying lawmakers in states and the nations’ Capitol.

“The work that we’re doing every single day is actively saving lives and that is by far, the biggest accomplishment that we’ve had,” said Deitsch. “I’ve heard it referred to as the Parkland Effect but this is so much more than just Parkland.”

According to the Giffords Law Center, 26 states and the District of Columbia enacted 67 new gun control laws in 2018, triple the number from the previous year.

“That is really when things change. When elected officials understand what the public is demanding,” said Daniel Webster, director of John Hopkins University Center for Gun Policy and Research.

Recently, survivors and students packed a House committee hearing to push for a background checks bill making its way through Congress.

Senator Marco Rubio said the bill in the House doesn’t solve the problem because we already have universal background checks. When asked if he would support it if it made its way to the Senate, Rubio replied, “not unless it figures out a way to address the burden it puts on the seller.”

“It does kind of shine a light on what kind of work we’re going to have to do in the Senate,” said Mirsky.

But he and Deitsch

“There were 300 plus mass shootings last year and you can pick any day and it’s an anniversary of a mass shooting in America and if that doesn’t bother the people then they are not paying attention,” said Deitsch.

On Thursday, some students say they plan to go “dark.” They say they don’t plan to do anything publicly so they can spend time with their families.