The White House Statement On March For Our Lives Is ... Brief
On Saturday, March 24, Washington, D.C. and other cities and towns across the country will bear witness to the March For Our Lives, a massive protest movement in support of legislative actions on gun control. That morning, the Trump administration issued an official response to the demonstrations ― the brief White House statement about the March For Our Lives applauded students for "exercising their First Amendment rights." Notably, President Trump himself has not yet publicly reacted to the event.
The marches are a response to the dire state of gun violence in America, and the deadly school shooting at the Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida last month, which left 17 people dead. In the days and weeks following the shooting, many of the surviving students have become highly visible activists for the cause of gun control, and Saturday's march is in large part the fruit of their labor.
According to CNN, White House deputy press secretary Lindsay Walters offered applause for the students demonstrating throughout the United States this weekend. She also insisted that keeping America's children safe was a "top priority" for the president, who is reportedly out of the nation's capital during the protests, at his Mar-a-Lago, Florida estate.
"We applaud the many courageous young Americans exercising their First Amendment rights today," Walters said in a short statement. "Keeping our children safe is a top priority of the President's, which is why he urged Congress to pass the Fix NICS and STOP School Violence Acts, and signed them into law."
The statement added, "Additionally, on Friday, the Department of Justice issued the rule to ban bump stocks following through on the President's commitment to ban devices that turn legal weapons into illegal machine guns."
In the immediate aftermath of the Parkland shooting, Trump initially voiced support for some gun control measures that would have cut against the longstanding positions of the National Rifle Association (NRA), the country's most visible and powerful pro-gun lobbying organization. Since then, however, he's notably backed off from those idea, instead throwing his weight behind the idea of armed some teachers and members of school staff, an NRA-endorsed proposal.
On Friday, less than 24 hours before the March For Our Lives, Trump announced a proposed ban on bump stocks, a gun accessory that allows a semiautomatic weapon to simulate an automatic rate of fire. Similar suggestions were made last year following a lethal mass shooting at an outdoor concert in Las Vegas, in which the gunman used a bump stock. Back then, however, the proposal never came to fruition in the U.S. Congress.
The March For Our Lives drew a big turnout on the National Mall on Saturday morning, although precisely how big is yet to be determined. Organizers had anticipated up to half a million people to show up in the nation's capital, while hundreds of thousands more were expected in cities like Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles.
Marches are also taking place all around the world, beyond just America ― if you're curious to see where it's all going down, you can check out a list of all the "sibling" demonstrations taking place.
It remains to be seen whether Trump will specifically comment on the massive March For Our Lives, which has flooded into the streets of the city in which he usualy resides. He reportedly went golfing on Saturday morning, at his Trump International golf club in Palm Beach, Florida, one of dozens of golfing trips he's made since becoming president ― there's a march happening in Palm Beach, too, one that reportedly hopes to capture Trump's attention.