The day after the national March For Our Lives, Wisconsin high schoolers began a 50-mile trek to U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan’s hometown. They’re sending a message that the fight for gun control didn’t end on Saturday.
” This is just the beginning,” the March For Our Lives: 50 Miles More website reads. About 50 students from across the state kicked off a four-day march on Sunday morning, leaving Madison and heading for Janesville. The teenagers will walk 13 miles a day and sleep in local high schools along the route before reaching Janesville’s Traxler Park on March 28.
“We know how easy it is for the media and politicians to move on from a tragedy created by gun violence,” 50 Miles More co-lead Katie Eder said in a March 12 statement. “We have grown up experiencing school shootings followed by this inaction, and we refuse to let it happen this time.”
March For Our Lives events have ended, but young people across Wisconsin have joined together to march the 50 Miles from Madison to Paul Ryan’s hometown, Janesville. Join us in making history. Yesterday was just the beginning. https://t.co/wJZmz1s7Oz #50More #MarchForOurLives50
— March For Our Lives: 50 Miles More (@50milesmore) March 25, 2018
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, gun control activists of all ages joined rallies across the country. A March For Our Lives petition called for a national ban on military-style assault weapons like the one used in the February school shooting, a ban on high-capacity magazines, and universal background checks.
The 50 Miles More marchers expanded on those demands, also calling for four-day waiting periods for all gun sales and raising the minimum age for gun purchases to 21.
Eder and her classmates are honoring victims of gun violence, including the 17 people killed in Parkland, and fighting for their right to feel safe in their own schools. For each mile they walk, the marchers will tweet a tribute to someone who lost their life to a bullet. Mile one was dedicated to Jaelynn Wiley, a 16-year-old who was fatally shot by an ex-boyfriend at her Maryland high school this month; mile two was in honor of Shamiya Adams, an 11-year-old killed by a stray bullet in Chicago in 2015; mile three was in remembrance of Alyssa Alhadeff, a 14-year-old student killed in the Parkland shooting.
NOW: About 50 #Wisconsin students are ready to start the @50milesmore march to #Janesville and call out @SpeakerRyan, demanding gun reform. They’re showing politicians the #MarchForOurLives is not over. #50milesmore #news3 pic.twitter.com/E62AK2HzZz
— Amanda Quintana (@AmandaQTV) March 25, 2018
“We refuse to let Parkland be just another tragedy where kids get killed and then people in power move on with their lives, leaving behind only hollow ‘thoughts and prayers,’” 50 Miles More co-lead Brendan Fardella said in the same March 12 statement. “We are going to keep the heat on the people who have been elected to serve us, starting with Paul Ryan, who actually has the power to make legislative change. And if Paul Ryan and other politicians refuse, the youth of America will demand change at the ballot box this November and beyond.”
Ryan, who received nearly $172,000 from gun rights groups during the 2016 election, didn’t acknowledge the March For Our Lives on Saturday, nor the 50 Miles More march on Sunday. As Fardella pointed out, the Wisconsin high schoolers marching to Janesville will work to boot him from office if he doesn’t take action on gun control.
More than 400 people marched to Ryan’s Janesville office on Saturday demanding gun reform, the local GazetteXtra reports. But the 50 Miles More marchers plan to keep putting pressure on their representative.
“We want to make sure that when the March For Our Lives events end on the 24th, people don’t stop talking and thinking about the need for gun reform,” Eder explained in her statement. Parkland survivor David Hogg mimicked her sentiment on Saturday, tweeting after the March For Our Lives in Washington D.C. concluded, “Now that is what I call a great start to the Marathon we have ahead.”
Click HERE to read more from Refinery29