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Marjory Stoneman bus tours aims to turn tide

PARKLAND-MARCHES

A large group of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High graduates have set out on a nationwide summer bus tour to register and encourage young people to vote. The tour is an offshoot of the March for Our Lives demonstration in Washington, D.C., above, and Tallahassee in March.

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Friday, June 15, 2018

Music is healing. Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas Senior High School put that theory on display Sunday night in New York with their stirring performance at the Tony Awards — beautifully.

The students, all from the school’s drama department, brought the house down singing the powerful “Seasons of Love,” from “Rent,” as survivors of the Feb. 14 massacre at their Parkland school where 17 died.

They touched millions of people with their moving message. This summer, many of their classmates also have a moving message: Register to vote — then vote!

On Thursday, a large group of Stoneman Douglas graduates will set out on a nationwide summer bus tour to bring about change in America. Half a century ago, it was students protesting the Vietnam War. Today, the students’ mission is to end a domestic war, one we’re waging on ourselves through gun violence.

The day after they received their diplomas — four seniors killed in the mass shooting received them posthumously — the grads announced the March for Our Lives tour. They will raise gun-control awareness and push for reform, likely going mano a mano with the NRA publicity machine. They will also be registering teens in time to vote in the midterm elections this November. They’ve got a big hurdle to clear. Millennials, who include 18 and 19 year olds, have the lowest voter turnout of any age group. Registering them will be easy, moving them to the voting booth, perhaps, not so much.

The bus tour is an offshoot of the March for Our Lives demonstration in Washington, D.C., and Tallahassee in March. There will be two tours: One will make 75 stops in 20 states, with a separate statewide tour that will visit all 27 congressional districts in Florida. It’s an ambitious project. It all begins Thursday with a peace march in Chicago, led by students from St. Sabina Academy.

The tours are being funded by donations made by people from around the country. A dollar amount was not disclosed. Donations are accepted through the March for Our Lives website. It’s imperative that students and their advisers are meticulous and transparent with their finances. They should not let even a whiff of carelessness compromise the integrity of their righteous mission.

Their movement already has made an impact. In Florida, Gov. Scott signed into law a $400 million bill that raised the minimum age to buy a firearm from 18 to 21, banned bump stocks and imposed a three-day waiting period on gun sales. Florida is also one of four states to pass a “red flag law,” allowing law enforcement to temporarily confiscate firearms from people found to pose a threat to themselves or others.

The biggest chance to bring about change will come in November. Though the student group will not officially endorse candidates, they plan to call out those who are receiving money from the NRA and have regressive views on gun reform. The issue is of vital importance and, in that spirit, the Miami Herald Editorial Board will be asking candidates it interviews their stance on gun-control issues.

If these Parkland students can turn inaction into action, nonvoters into voters and bring more souls to the polls in November, they would have accomplished something special, just like those young Americans did 50 years ago.

The Miami Herald

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