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Local residents join Washington march for tougher gun laws

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    More than 800,000 people took to the streets of Washington, D.C., on Saturday to call for tougher gun laws. for more photos from the march, scan this photo with the Prindeo app. LINDA ZAK CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

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    Joan McKinsey and her daughter Paige join the march in Washington. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Published March 26. 2018 01:45PM

Several local residents helped to make up the 800,000 people who marched on Washington, D.C., Saturday calling for tougher gun laws.

Joan McKinsey of Polk Township, who attended the March for Our Lives Rally in Washington, D.C., with her daughter Paige, said she is outraged at politicians who have “failed our children” by failing to take a hard stance on gun control.

“Our kids are living in a war zone,” she said, “and I’m so proud of our youth for taking the reins. It really gives you hope for the future. This has been going on for far too long and something had to happen.”

By 10:30 a.m., when the McKinseys arrived, there was not a spot to be had even remotely close to the main stage. Attendees were shoulder to shoulder, she said, but there was calmness about the rally.

“There was an electricity, but it was extremely peaceful,” McKinsey said.

The intersectionality of the speakers left a lasting impression on Paige.

Speakers ranged from a Latina woman from California whose brother was killed in a shooting to an 11-year-old girl Naomi Wadler, who said she was representing African-American women who were victims of gun violence, but never make the front page of the newspaper.

Another speaker who stood out was Emma Gonzalez, a student and survivor of the Parkland, Florida, shooting. Gonzalez stood in silence for part of her 6 minute and 30 second speech, the same amount of time it took for the Parkland shooting to unfold.

“She is a powerhouse who is going to be a force to be reckoned with,” McKinsey said.

Linda Zak of Saylorsburg, who also attended the rally, said she was brought to tears on several occasions during the event.

“It was not only for the obvious, on hearing the stories of the murdered, and the passion of the young survivors from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, but from watching the crowd who attended, full of their own passion for change,” Zak said. “The crowd included men, women, teens, children, toddlers and the very old. All of them united in determination to change our broken political system.”

A gun owner herself who has attended National Rifle Association events, Zak said she supports stringent gun restrictions and doesn’t fit into a one-size-fits-all box.

“I have learned that of the top 100 recipients of NRA money, five congressmen were Democrats, and 95 were Republicans,” Zak said. “This makes it clear that the gun issue is, on the whole, a partisan issue. On Saturday, Americans of every age and background came together to demand that our politicians, at long last, work together to solve the horror of the slaughter of our children. It will be done, because it must be done.”

Paige McKinsey joined the Peace Corps as a global health and malaria prevention volunteer in Togo, West Africa. Though West Africa is the 10th-poorest nation in the world, she said the likelihood of her being killed by gunfire is far higher in her home country.

“There was one speaker who said they learned to dodge bullets before they learned to read, and that’s just unacceptable,” Paige said of Saturday’s rally. “I felt very empowered after listening to many of the speakers. We have a responsibility to these children.”

Both McKinseys said they hope the upcoming midterm election brings in some fresh political faces who begin to implement gun control legislation.

Arming teachers, Paige added, is not the answer.

“My father is a teacher,” she said. “How about we start buying pencils and backpacks for the students before we start arming teachers and adding police officer to their list of duties.”

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