Several audience members wore T-shirts of organizations advocating policies such as universal firearms background checks, banning magazines that hold more than 10 rounds and restricting gun access to domestic abusers. Most were adults and parents. Several came with their children. Nearly all of the speakers and performers were students and young adults.
Gun rights supporters have advocated a different approach, which has included allowing teachers, with the proper training, to carry firearms in the classroom. A handful of Georgia school districts have allowed such policies.
Antoniette Tuff, a former DeKalb County Schools employee who talked a young man out of firing his weapon inside a school in 2013, spoke at Sunday’s event. She congratulated the Florida students for their resolve.
“I stand here today to allow their voices to be heard,” she said.
Martin Luther King III, son of the assassinated civil rights icon, was the first speaker.
“I am excited,” he said. “Momentum is rising and a change is on the horizon.”
Martin Luther King III speaks at a March For Our Lives rally in Atlanta on July 29, 2018. (Photo: Eric Stirgus/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Sunday’s event was part of a nationwide tour to maintain awareness about the issue. Several people were invited to discuss their personal experiences involving gun violence. Students outside Georgia who were part of the rally said they were inspired by Sunday’s crowd, which appeared to be about 300 people.
“It shows that the young people are demanding change,” said Ramon Contreras, 19, of New York.
Lyric Eschoe, 16, an Atlanta student being homeschooled, said the movement will continue by engaging young people through a familiar tool: social media. The students said they'll continue to work, although some of it may not be as visible as the rallies and last spring's march on Washington.
“It’s not that it’s stopped,” Lyric said. “It’s just that you don’t see everything.”