The children’s crusade to end school shootings is coming to Congress – and coming after any congressmen and senators who stand in their way.
Following up on the success of their March for Our Lives demonstrations last month, organizers will be holding Town Halls for Our Lives meetings in congressional districts all across the country on April 7. So far, they say, 79 members of the House and Senate have agreed to hold town halls to discuss gun violence, with many others “still in the works. (See the map below.)
“Hundreds of thousands of us marched across the country on March 24. But that’s only the beginning,” organizers say on their website. “To take this message directly to lawmakers, we need them to hear us directly – and soon. Every single member of Congress is back in their district on District Work Period – better known as ‘recess’ – between March 23 and April 9. So March for Our Lives has raised the call for a congressional Town Hall in every district in America on April 7.
“The easiest, best way for a Town Hall for Our Lives to become a reality is if your member of Congress holds one themselves,” organizers say. “If your sitting-member of Congress won’t take the time to hear from her or his constituents, it’s time to let people speak out to those running for office who are going to put people over special interests. Invite any and all declared candidates for that congressional district. Reach out to candidates of both parties.”
They’re hoping to get as much media coverage of the town halls as they did for their marches in cities across the country and the world – something that the grownup organizers call “earned media.”
“We know through experience,” they’re telling the kids, “that elected officials pay close attention to the press coverage in their local news outlets because they know that such coverage both reflects opinions among their constituents and influences the opinions of others. You can use earned media to get your issue covered in the local press—and in front of your elected leaders.
“When we say ‘earned media,’ we mean stories that run as news in a local newspaper, blog, radio, or TV station. They are ‘earned’ because we planned an event that was newsworthy enough to be covered by one of these sources. In other words, earned media is the opposite of paid media, which are also known as advertisements. Earned media is effective in persuading both elected leaders and constituents because news outlets are trusted sources for information.”
Adult organizers are urging those who attend the town halls to “participate nonviolently and in accordance with the law,” but if anything goes wrong, their lawyers are telling the kids that they’re on their own. “By choosing to attend this event,” they caution in fine print, “you also acknowledge that you are solely responsible for any injury or damage to your person or property resulting from or occurring during this event and that you release all event sponsors and organizers and their officers, directors, employees, and agents from any liability for that injury or damage.”