“When it comes to the issues that define our national character like civil rights or workers rights, it’s not the Senate or federal government that leads, it’s grassroots movements,” Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) told Millennial activists yesterday during a conference call. “When it comes to causes of justice, things don’t just happen, they must be made to happen.”
With the average age of both gun violence victims and perpetrators being in their early 20’s, gun violence is an issue that disproportionately affects millennials.
Yesterday, Generation Progress and Booker announced the Generation Progress Gun Violence Summit that will be held next February in Washington, D.C.
The goal of the summit is to help educate, motivate, and empower Millennials in the movement to preventing gun violence, bringing together Millennial leaders, progressive organizations, and policy experts as an effort to build a grassroots movement that pushes Congress to pass sensible gun legislation.
Less than a week after the anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, founder of the Junior Newtown Action Alliance (JNAA), Sarah Clements, joined Booker and Generation Progress on the call.
“Young people in America are still more likely to die from gun violence than from cancer, and that’s not okay,” Clements said.
Clements’ mother is a second grade teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary, who lost colleagues in the shooting, which lead Clements to start the JNAA as a way to help “transform pain into positive action.”
Increasingly, Millennials are demanding action on the issue of gun violence and are no longer content to let lobbyists and a vocal minority obstruct legislation even though the vast majority of Americans support it.
Millennial activist groups like the Georgia Gun Sense Coalition have enjoyed success at the state level, successfully opposing pro-gun legislation introduced over the past year.
“Confronted by the reality of a disconnected legislative body, we refused to be silenced,” the coalition’s co-founder Ronnie Mosley said. “We know that there’s strength in numbers, we just have to do it, we have to step up to the plate.”
Booker echoed the call for common-sense gun control legislation expressed by Clements and Mosley.
“It’s amazing to me that we see 90 percent approval for background checks, but the Senate has failed to pass legislation,” Booker said.
He continued by describing the 10,000 gun deaths since Newtown, “wholly unacceptable” and “an affront to who we are as a nation.”
Booker called on Millennial leaders to act by gathering at the upcoming Gun Violence Summit.
“It’s a fight for America. We’ve got to get organized. We’ve got to do a better job. It’s time to liberate communities from the fear of gun violence,” Booker said. “We can beat the gun lobby, and we can win this battle. We can join together to make the difference that must be made and reduce gun violence in this country.”
It’s this message that Generation Progress hopes to send at its summit—that Millennials can no longer wait until a loved one’s voice is silenced before raising their own about gun violence.