March for Our Lives looks to expand club, initiatives


Connie Erdozain

Midtown’s chapter of March for Our Lives is part of the national organization protesting gun violence in schools. After the 2018 school shooting in Parkland, Fl, many students felt a call to action to participate in protests against legislation relating to gun protection across various states.

Following incidents of gun violence in the Midtown community, the Midtown chapter of March for Our Lives (MFOL) is hoping to make an impact.

March for Our Lives is a nationwide organization that started in 2018 after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Fl. The club is aimed at preventing gun violence and supporting gun control legislation.

President and senior Jeffrey Hallett said he joined because gun violence is an important issue.

“I got involved with March for Our Lives last year because gun violence is something that affects me and everyone in this school,” Hallett said. “It was something that was important to me, and I became really invested in the club’s mission.”

In April, Gov. Brian Kemp signed a bill that allows residents to publicly carry a gun without a permit or background check.

Government teacher Susan Salvesen, the club’s sponsor joined the club before the pandemic after the Parkland shooting. Salvesen said she is excited to be a part of the club and work towards more restrictive gun laws in GA.

“One of our main goals that we’re focusing on now is trying to inform our senators and our governor that we want more change in terms of restricting gun control, which is really hard in the state that we live in,” Salvesen said.

Hallett is also frustrated with the state’s gun laws and said he hopes the club will highlight the need for change.

“The club is important because it’s still very important to try and prevent gun violence from happening in schools and still a very real threat in America, especially with new laws that are being passed in Georgia that make it easier to carry guns,” Hallett said.

The gun-related violence surrounding the school and community this year, including the shooting on Aug. 13 at a Midtown party, and a school shooting threat on Aug. 24, highlighted for many students the importance of MFOL.

“I definitely have a new perspective [after the threat and party],” senior and member Margaret Kimborough said. “I find it even more important because it’s a problem that directly affects Midtown and our community.”

Another instance of gun violence was freshman Terrance Denson’s death after a shooting at an apartment complex in June. Salvesen said she hopes past events encourage more students to become involved in the club.

“I think the conversation changes a little bit with these events, like what happened with the Morningside party and the death of Terrance Denson,” Salvesen said. “I think it definitely has an impact on the community and our school. I really would like to see more kids turn out to bring about change.”

The club has ambitious goals for the year, but at the moment, it is focused on recruiting more members. Membership has been lacking since the return to in-person school.

“We’re trying to really increase the size of the club and get more students willing to participate so that we can be more of a presence in the school but also in the community and bring about some positive change,” Salvesen said.

Hallett wants to reach underclassmen who haven’t been exposed to the organization yet.

“We really hope to be able to reach out to freshmen and sophomores who may not know a lot about the club,” Hallett said. “They were really young when March for Our Lives started, so we want to make sure that we can reach the members of all grades and make sure that we can spread the issue of gun violence and show why it’s important to prevent it.”

The club wants to create a safe space for people to talk about gun violence and issues, promote change within the state and community, as well as grow in size and strength.

“We hope to be able to reduce the amount of gun violence in Georgia and in our schools specifically; we know that’s a very ambitious goal, but our goal is just to make sure that more people feel safe and are safe,” Hallett said.