In a historic groundswell of youth activism, hundreds of thousands of teenagers and their supporters rallied across the US against gun violence on Saturday, 24 March, vowing to transform fear and grief into a "vote-them-out" movement and tougher laws against weapons and ammo.
They took to the streets of the nation's capital and cities such as Boston, New York, Chicago, Houston, Minneapolis, Phoenix, Los Angeles and Oakland, California, in the kind of numbers seen during the Vietnam era, sweeping up activists long frustrated by stalemate in the gun debate and bringing in lots of new, young voices.
They were called to action by a brand-new corps of leaders: Student survivors of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 people dead on 14 February.
"If you listen real close, you can hear the people in power shaking," Parkland survivor David Hogg said to roars from the protesters packing Pennsylvania Avenue from the stage near the Capitol many blocks back toward the White House.
Some of the young voices were very young. Yolanda Renee King, Reverend Martin Luther King Jr's 9-year-old granddaughter, drew from the civil rights leader's most famous words in declaring from the stage:
I have a dream that enough is enough. That this should be a gun-free world. Period.Yolanda Renee King, Martin Luther King Jr’s granddaughter
By all appearances — there were no official numbers — Washington's March for Our Lives rally rivalled the women's march last year that drew far more than the predicted 3,00,000.
The National Rifle Association went silent on Twitter as the protests unfolded, in contrast to its reaction to the nationwide school walkouts against gun violence on 14 March when it tweeted a photo of an assault rifle and the message "I'll control my own guns, thank you."
President Donald Trump was in Florida for the weekend and did not weigh in on Twitter either.
White House spokesman Zach Parkinson said: "We applaud the many courageous young Americans exercising their First Amendment rights today." He pointed to Trump's efforts to ban bump stocks and his support for school-safety measures and extended background checks for gun purchases.
Student protesters called for a ban on high-capacity magazines and assault-type weapons like the one used by the killer in Parkland, comprehensive background checks, and a higher minimum age to buy guns.
(This article has been published in an arrangement with AP. The article has been edited for length.)
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