LOS ANGELES — Bodies were spread out on the sidewalk outside Los Angeles City Hall June 12, a symbolic gesture by gun control activists meant to represent the fatal victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida, on the second anniversary of the massacre.
Among the roughly 80 people participating in the event was actress Alyssa Milano and a group of students from March For Our Lives Los Angeles, who all spread out on the ground for 12 minutes, or 720 seconds, which the group said represented the 700-plus victims of mass shootings in America that have occurred since the Pulse massacre.
“I’m just tired of guns getting into the wrong hands and I’m tired of the NRA buying off our politicians, which then prevents our politicians from voting on gun reform bills that would help keep America safer,” Milano told City News Service.
The “die-in” demonstration was part of a national movement by March for Our Lives, a student-led organization that was formed by survivors of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida., on Feb. 14 which left 17 people dead. Die-ins also were held at other sites around the country, including Chicago, New York, Washington D.C. and near President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.
The organization also led a march in Washington D.C. on March 24 calling for more gun control measures, with hundreds of satellite marches also taking place around the world, including Los Angeles.
“Hate crimes are on the rise, and guns are used in almost half of them in America, and also LGBT suicides are very high right now,” said Cameron Price, a junior at Redondo Union High School and a member of Gays Against Guns Los Angeles. “LGBT teens are five times more likely to attempt suicide than straight teens, so I really want to get guns out of the hands of us and out of the hands of people who want to harm us. I am someone who has attempted suicide because of homophobia, and if I had a gun I wouldn’t be here today.”
A gunman killed 49 people inside the Pulse nightclub on June 12, 2016. The shooter, Omar Mateen, was killed in a shootout with police during the massacre.
Milano, known for her roles on “Who’s the Boss,” “Charmed” and “Project Runway All Stars,” co-founded the group No Rifle Association, or NoRA, after the Parkland massacre. The group’s goals are to advocate for gun control and reduce the political influence of the National Rifle Association.
“My goal for today is really to support the young people because young people will win. I’ve always felt that if my voice can be a megaphone for those that want to speak up, that feel like they can, then I’ve really put my celebrity in the right place,” Milano said. “Anything that we can do to raise awareness. We don’t want to take people’s guns away. We don’t want to change the Constitution, we just want to prevent the guns from getting into the wrong hands. We want to prevent these weapons of war from getting into the wrong hands, and we want to shine a light on those politicians that take money from the NRA. I think that’s the biggest battle that we have to fight, is to chip away at the NRA’s hold on our political system.”
About a week after the Parkland shooting, NRA President Wayne LaPierre accused Democrats of exploiting the shooting and said that armed security should be beefed up at schools to make them safer, calling them “wide open, soft targets for anyone bent on mass murder.”
The City Hall event featured a number of speakers, including Deborah Nelson, whose daughter, Monique Roxanne Nelson, was killed in a parking lot in Sacramento on Dec. 14, 2010. She was hit by a stray bullet and killed while shielding her then 2-year-old son as rival gang members shot at each other.
“My baby girl Monique was a good mother,” Nelson said. “Due to her selfless act she has taught me to advocate against all senseless acts of gun violence. She has taught me to advocate for common sense gun laws, to make sure that these deadly weapons do not end up in the hands of the wrong individuals, which in turn will eradicate this culture of violence that currently exists in the United State today. Due to her ultimate sacrifice, she has taught me that my voice matters.”