Author: Will Kenneally
Dozens marched from Library Mall to the Capitol steps Saturday to protest the National Rifle Association’s involvement in politics and to advocate for stricter gun control.
The march, organized by high school activists and the group NextGen Wisconsin, used the upcoming primary election as a backdrop to draw attention to their cause.
“If we don’t get no justice, they don’t get our vote,” the group chanted.
Despite some of the ralliers being too young to vote, they argued they still should have their voices heard.
“If we’re old enough to get shot, we’re old enough to have an opinion,” said Max Prestigiacomo, one of the march organizers. The 17-year-old from Middleton said that though he is not yet able to cast a ballot, he can still make a difference.
“Educating people is my way of getting involved because I can’t vote myself,” Prestigiacomo said. “I’d rather educate people on the issues that I care about, so that they know that there are students that can’t vote, and we want them to fight for the change that we cannot.”
Prestigiacomo added that activists were working with state legislators to introduce bills to create universal background checks and a 48-hour waiting period on firearm purchases. Legislation to expand background checks in the state was introduced this year in the wake of the Parkland, Florida, shooting, but failed to pass the state Senate.
This is not the first time student-activists have taken to the street to advocate for stricter gun control laws. Madison has seen this year a school walkout in the thousands, an iteration of the national March for Our Lives, and a 50-mile march from Madison to Janesville.
The protesters say they will continue to push for change rather than letting the issue drop. Three students who took part in the 50 Miles More march delivered a spoken word poem at the rally Saturday.
“This is the end of ‘not right now’ because we’re making it ‘right now,’” the students said.
Prestigiacomo said the movement will continue forward in the form of a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization, with the goal of connecting student-activists with the public to help further the legislative push for gun control.