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7,000 Pairs of Shoes Stand Empty for Child Victims of Gun Violence


Children's shoes, some from victims of mass shootings, were arranged on the lawn on the U.S. Capitol to protest gun violence in America.

Standing on the lawn of the U.S. Capitol, Tom Mauser wears his son’s old shoes — the ones Daniel wore the day he was killed at Columbine High School in Colorado in 1999.

Mauser looked out at the 7,000 pairs of shoes arranged in a temporary memorial Tuesday morning — one pair for each of the estimated 7,000 children who have died from gun violence since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012.

A second set of Daniel Mauser's shoes are among the pairs on the lawn, part of a protest against gun violence that has been ignited since 17 high school students and adults were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Feb. 14.

Survivors of the Parkland shooting have been outspoken on social media and news outlets, advocating for stricter gun control.

The students have organized a #NationalStudentWalkout for March 14 with 17 minutes of silence for each victim, and a national “March for Our Lives” on March 24, two of a number of protests that demand Congress pass more regulations on gun use and purchases.

“When the Parkland students called for their march on March 24, we felt we wanted to honor the kids who won’t get to march,” Nell Greenberg told VOA. Greenberg is a campaign director for AVAAZ, a global civic movement advocating for social issues such as climate change and net neutrality, as well as gun control.

“And part of why we’re marching next week is because they can’t.”

The Valentine's Day shooting in Parkland, where at least 15 were injured, was the 18th mass shooting so far in 2018, according to Everytown for Gun Safety, a nonprofit organization in the U.S.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, more than 1,300 U.S. children die every year from guns.

In the days after the Parkland shooting, the state of Florida moved to raise the minimum age required to buy a gun from 18 to 21. Activists across the country are pushing lawmakers to do the same, in particular, calling out politicians who receive funding from the National Rifle Association. The gun lobby has been vehemently opposed to any regulations on purchasing guns, claiming it violates Americans' Second Amendment right.

The NRA declined to comment to VOA about the Florida shooting, but the homepage of its website states NRA Chief Executive Officer Wayne LaPierre recently "let [gun-control politicians] and their anti-gun minions know that the NRA will not tolerate their use of a tragedy in their war against the Second Amendment."

Written in 1791, the amendment states: "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."

On Friday, Congress will vote on a bill supported by the Trump administration that would provide more funding for school security. But the bill has been criticized by liberals for not including any provisions relating to firearms.

In the days before the vote, protests and displays such as the 7,000 pairs of shoes call on lawmakers to vote down the bill and address what organizers call the root of the problem: Easy access to firearms.

“It’s shameful that we, in America, have this happen in our country," Mauser said. "And there’s something we should do about it.”

Please visit our Facebook page for photos and videos about the shoes on Capitol Hill, thanks!

https://www.facebook.com/voastudentu/videos/1836716076347594/

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