March For Our Lives California 2019 Student Activist Meetings Commence
On February 24, noon, a group of kids met in an unassuming studio in downtown Los Angeles, ready to change the future of American gun safety and rewrite ancient legislation. The meeting was run by the Los Angeles chapter of March For Our Lives (MFOL), an activist group formed by survivors of the Parkland shooting of February 2018, and was the group’s first general meeting of the year.
On February 24, noon, a group of kids met in an unassuming studio in downtown Los Angeles, ready to change the future of American gun safety and rewrite legislation. The meeting was run by the Los Angeles chapter of March For Our Lives (MFOL), an activist group formed by survivors of the Parkland shooting of February 2018, and was the group’s first general meeting of the year. After signing in, being welcomed with t-shirts and snacks, and the obligatory mingling, clusters of young adults-- ranging from 14 to 24-- arranged themselves in chairs adorned with information packets on the MFOL movement. There was a buzz in the air, everyone seemingly nervous yet excited, as all were coming together over a mutual passion.
The meeting began officially with two of the leaders of MFOL California, Rachel Iribe and Matthew Kahsay, presenting. The group first had a moment of silence for the 17 lives lost on February 14, 2018, attack in Parkland. Iribe and Kahsay then went on to present informational slides. MFOL California is a non-profit, non-partisan group that is 100 percent student-led (though they don’t exclude), and has 25-30 active chapters. The group strives to spread itself to every high school and college in the state, and focuses on every issue related to gun violence. The leaders also emphasized that they are not trying to take guns away, but are simply attempting to make gun usage safer.
Mahmoud El-Farra, the co-political director for MFOL CA, then explained his work for the group, which mainly consists of getting legislatures to pass amendments. El-Farra is currently focusing on such issues as the Voter’s Choice Act (VCA) which aims to make voting in the U.S. more easily accessible. Among other things, he is passionate about making Election Day a state holiday (AB 177), and the possibility of automatic voter registration, which would ensure that residents of California do not have to take an extra step in order to be able to vote, and could simply show up to the polls with I.D. on voting day. At this point, the group leaders were insistent on letting attendees know that residents can pre-register to vote beginning at age sixteen, and should absolutely do so.
El-Farra also mentioned his work with an interest in California’s Extreme Risk protection orders (GVRO), which restrict those who seem to be at an elevated risk of using guns for harm to have access to them. When asked about what ambitious members of the group can do to help these legislatures pass, El-Farra explained that those interested can join a regional chapter and, with the help of MOFL’s lawyers, actually draft legislature (in conjunction with a political director).
The presentation wrapped up with Iribe and Kahsey explaining their plans and ideas for the one year anniversary of the national march that launched a revolution, which took place on March 24, 2018. This year, in remembrance, MOFL CA wants to host a barbecue/picnic, and leaders are looking for students to help organize this event. They plan on having the event resemble a conversational gathering during which attendees can learn more about the movement and how to become involved, rather than holding a traditional march.
The floor opened up to the audience at this point, and group members began conversing about their interest in and experience with gun protection.
MOFL CA welcomes any and all high school and college students to join. Those interested can get involved by visiting their website, marchforourlivesla.com, or by contacting co-political director El-Farra at @mahmoudelfarra_ (Instagram and Twitter).