At the Rochester NY March for Science we applaud the student organizers of March For Our Lives: at Stoneman Douglas High School, locally here in Rochester and across the country. The United States has seen a swell in political activism throughout 2017 and 2018. The March for Science is among the movements that have organized, encouraging the voices of the scientific community to speak up about issues facing our nation and our planet. When all voices are heard and a variety of viewpoints are included in decision making, our democracy is stronger and healthier. The young citizens who are raising their voices here in Rochester and around the country are a truly inspiring force in this vital conversation.
On both sides of the ideological aisle, gun violence prevention can be a heated and emotional issue. This makes it particularly important to use the tools of science to inform decision making. We owe it to these students and to all our country’s children to have an honest discussion about gun violence and to work for solutions. Effective solutions can be found by looking at available data to see what we know works or does not work to decrease gun violence. Gaps in our current knowledge need to be identified so that future research can be planned to aid in creating better-informed policies.
The Rochester NY March for Science supports encouraging and funding gun violence research at the national level through the CDC and other scientific institutions. A key first step to making this possible is to repeal legislation such as the Dickey Amendment that stifles gun violence studies at the Center for Disease Control. Gun violence is a public health issue and should be investigated accordingly. Silencing research forces policy making to be based on guesswork, a gamble that is unacceptable with lives in the balance.
There are opportunities for individual states to lead the way in this research, and New York State has already begun. A proposal to create a firearm violence research institute, Assembly Bill A2977, has been referred to the Higher Education Committee and Senate Bill S4363 has been referred to the Finance Committee. If passed, this proposal would make New York State a leader in this much-needed research. New York has also formed a partnership with Connecticut, New Jersey and Rhode Island, with the four states pledging to share gun safety data. Through their hard work, March For Our Lives is keeping this issue in the forefront of public consciousness. We commend their courage and support using all the tools and information available to solve the issue of gun violence. Our community cannot rest until evidence-based solutions to this problem have been successfully implemented.
March For Our Lives has shined a spotlight on the issue of mass shootings, particularly at schools. This is an important part of the discussion, but gun violence prevention is a much broader issue. The students of Stoneman Douglas have reached out to communities who have been affected by other forms of gun violence who have not typically received the media and public support to have their voices heard. We strongly support this effort to broaden the conversation and listen to the voices of communities who have been ignored in the past. We also recognize that activists in these communities have been working for years in efforts to curb gun violence. Their voices and perspectives are important factors needed to solve these issues and create a better future for all of our children.
Of the approximately 3500 shooting incidents reported by the RPD since 2000, more than 800 of the victims have been under the age of 20. Young people in Rochester grow up with the brutal reality of gun violence, something that no child should ever have to experience. We are proud of our local students who are adding their voices to this national movement. Today, Rochester students will join their peers across the country in observing seventeen minutes of silence to honor those who were killed at Stoneman Douglas High School. Students from many local schools have worked with their administrators to gain support and plan for this demonstration to be peaceful and safe.
On March 24, there will be marches across the nation, organized by students, calling for legislative action to curb gun violence. Students from Brighton and School of the Arts are organizing a local march. They are partnering with students from other schools and working to make their event inclusive of students from all of Monroe County. Students from Webster are organizing buses for students interested in making the trip to the national march in Washington D.C.
To students here and across the country, keep marching. You have our support! As educators, parents, and fellow students, we’ll be following your lead and marching along with you here in Rochester. Science Marchers, we encourage you to join us in signing the National March for Science letter to congress, and by letting your elected representatives know that you support efforts to better understand and prevent gun violence .
– The Rochester NY March for Science Organizing Team
March For Our Lives Rochester
NYS Assembly Bill A2977
NYS Senate Bill S4363
Huffington Post – Parkland Survivors Meet With Chicago Students To Tackle Gun Violence ‘Beyond Gated Communities’
News 10 WHEC – Local students to join national “March For Our Lives’
Democrat and Chronicle – How local schools are addressing plans for student-led walkouts￼
Science-Based Medicine – Gun Violence as a Public Health Issue
March for Science – Ask Congress to approve the funding and support we need to make evidence-based policies to prevent gun violence a reality.
The Root – Why It Hurts When the World Loves Everyone but Us
NY Times – Four Northeast States Pledge to Share Gun Safety Data