Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is on a hot streak when it comes to resonating with young people. On February 11, the Democratic presidential hopeful won 47 percent of the youth vote in the New Hampshire primary, according to exit polls conducted by the Washington Post, and 48 percent of the same demographic at the Iowa caucuses earlier in the month. He's also racked up endorsements by young progressives like Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), as well as youth-led activist groups like Sunrise Movement and the Florida-based Dream Defenders. And on Thursday (February 20), several co-founders of the March For Our Lives organization joined other young gun violence prevention activists in endorsing the democratic socialist's presidential campaign.
They announced their endorsement in in a video featuring Nurah Abdulhaqq, Thandiwe Abdullah, Ryan Deitsch, Maxwell Frost, Chris Grady, Daud Mumin, Robert Schentrup, and Delaney Tarr. Together, they made the case for voting with gun violence prevention in mind and explained their beliefs that Senator Sanders would be the best candidate to enact meaningful gun law reform.
"Gun violence isn’t the cause but the system of systematic injustice in this country," said Frost, the national organizing director for MFOL.
"I’ve seen firsthand the trauma, the devastation, I’ve witnessed the wound that our community faces, and I’ve seen enough," Abdullah, a co-founder of the Black Lives Matter Youth Vanguard, said. "I’ve had enough."
Sanders's gun law reform plan includes expanding background checks; banning assault weapons; and ending loopholes that allow for domestic abusers to buy firearms, for immediate firearm purchases at gun shows or as "straw purchases" for people who might otherwise fail a background check. But Sanders also has a mixed history on gun control laws — in 1993, he opposed the Brady Bill, which installed a waiting period and background checks as requisites handgun purchases, and in 2003 and 2005, voted for a bill that protects gun manufacturers from liability lawsuits (though Vox notes it does not provide full legal immunity). He has since reversed that support, per NBC News, and currently holds a D- rating from the National Rifle Association.
"People are sick and tired of gun violence, and the time is now for all of us together to stand up to the NRA,” Sanders said in a statement provided to MTV News. “Young people are leading the fight against gun violence in this country, and I am proud to have the support of these gun violence prevention activists who are leading the movement.”
As The Hill noted, the endorsement came just days before the Nevada caucuses, which will take place Saturday (February 22), and the day after the ninth Democratic primary debate, which was held in Las Vegas. In 2017, a perpetrator killed 57 people and wounded over 500 others at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival. To many viewers's dismay, the debate on February 19 spent minimal time discussing mass shootings or gun violence more broadly.
Over 100 people in America are killed via gun violence every day, according to Everytown for Gun Safety. In 2019, there were more mass shootings than days.
We can all take action to prevent gun violence. Visit everytown.org/act.