FARMINGTON — More than 200 people gathered at Mallett School in Farmington on Saturday as part of the March for Our Lives movement, which is dedicated to student-led activism in the fight against gun violence and mass shootings.
Mt. Blue High School senior River Lisius organized the event with help from her teachers and community members.
“As a student, I deserve to be safe,” Lisius said in her opening speech. “We’re saying, ‘Enough.’ We’re saying, ‘No more.’”
Maine Attorney General Janet Mills was there to tell the crowd that “every great movement has been led by the people,” and that nobody should have to fear for their lives when they go to school, the movies, or the grocery store.
Mills said a bill called “Red Flag” is being introduced in the Legislature by state Sen. Mark Dion, D-Portland, within the next few weeks.
The bill would provide an avenue for police or concerned citizens to petition the courts to temporarily remove weapons from people who pose a risk to themselves or others.
“To eliminate the threat of gun violence in our communities, we can’t keep repeating the same old routine every time tragedy strikes,” Mills said. “(Lisius) mentioned that dangerous people are still having access to guns. This is one way we can reduce that threat, by passing a red-flag type law, and I’ll be working with Sen. Dion in the Legislature to do just that.”
Mills called for unity in the effort to curb gun violence.
“We must hold to our values and to our principles as a community,” she said. “We must stand strong behind the fundamental changes we know must be made, but at the same time talk to the people who might not agree with us about everything. Because we cannot afford a short-term win.”
The event attracted those who own guns and those who do not, and moderation seemed to be the consensus.
Tom and Richard Lacasse of Norridgewock and Skowhegan, respectively, have owned firearms and hunted from young ages. They said they didn’t feel out of place at all.
“I think the gun situation is out of control,” Tom Lacasse said. “I’ve hunted since I was 16, but you don’t need to have an assault weapon with these high-capacity magazines.”
Lacasse added that as a gun owner, he’s tired of the National Rifle Association, saying it has a “Chicken Little mentality.”
“You know, they think, ‘The sky is falling, they’re trying to take our guns,’ but that’s not what is happening here,” he said.
Teacher Barbara Jennings of Rangeley was there with a group of fellow educators. Jennings does not own firearms, but she doesn’t have a problem with those who do.
“You have a right to protect yourself and yours, not to massacre others,” Jennings said. She proposed banning military-style assault weapons, bump stocks, and requiring a background check for every gun purchase.
The Franklin County March for Our Lives walk in Farmington on Saturday drew more than 200 people. (Liz Marquis/Sun Journal)
Maine Attorney General Janet Mills spoke at the start of the March for Our Lives event in Farmington on Saturday. (Liz Marquis/Sun Journal)
Mt. Blue High School senior River Lisius spoke at the beginning of the March for Our Lives rally in Farmington on Saturday. She organized the event with help from members of her school and community. (Liz Marquis/Sun Journal)
Left to right, Barbara Jennings, Betsy Hallweaver, Lucy Simonds, Robin George and Marty Thompson, all of Rangeley, and Ann Schwink of Strong, and Shirley Schrader of Rangeley attended the March for Our Lives rally Saturday in Farmington. (Liz Marquis/Sun Journal)