Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson CPLA hosts gun safety rally in Boston Common

Arthur Mansavage

Emerson’s Communication, Politics, and Law Association (CPLA) hosted a gun safety rally on Dec. 10 in the Boston Common in front of the State House in one of its first advocacy-centered events. 

Joined by community advocates, students, and Boston residents, CPLA rallied in the Common to raise awareness about gun violence and urged legislatures to implement stricter regulations on firearms. Members handed out packets with legislative information, mental health resources, and information on how to get involved with advocacy groups. 

“Most of this rally is highlighting the voices of organizers and people who are really making an impact,” said CPLA Vice President Gandharvika Gopal.

Five speakers addressed the crowd about gun safety efforts at the rally, including Angelica Fontes, director of organizing at Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence, Pace McConkie Jr., policy and advocacy manager at Louis D. Brown Peace Institute, State Rep. Dave Rogers, Leon Smith, the executive director for Citizens for Juvenile Justice, and Jaylin Gemmel, co-organizer for March for Our Lives Boston

Arthur Mansavage/Beacon Staff

Gopal said that younger generations have witnessed numerous mass shootings in the news and media throughout their lifetime and that gun violence has become normalized in the U.S.

“We were thinking about how, in reality, mass shootings do make up a very small percentage of gun violence,” Gopal said. “We also broadened our scope to consider the more interpersonal and community-based gun violence that’s happening, particularly in communities around us in Massachusetts.”

There was no specific event that led to originally planning the rally, Gopal said. But recent shootings in Maine and Vermont are now “top of mind” for the group. 

According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been over 600 mass shootings (four or more victims shot or killed) in the U.S. in 2023. This number has been consistent over the last three years. The U.S. leads the world in school shootings by a significant margin. 

“We’re creating a world where young children are doing active shooter drills instead of learning the ABCs,” Leon Smith said in an address to the crowd. “We cannot harden our schools to safety. We have to deal with the issues of firearms.”

Following Hawaii, Massachusetts has the lowest household gun ownership numbers and lowest gun death rate in the U.S., according to the Violence Policy Center. In his speech at the rally, Rogers spoke on the recent H.4135 bill that passed through the Massachusetts House of Representatives to the Senate. The bill seeks to prohibit firearms in certain spaces and limit the spread of ghost guns

“The main problem is the proliferation of guns in our society,” Rogers said. “We always need to do more. The suffering, the tragedy, the pain that families experience is almost unbearable. We know that law saves lives.” 

Arthur Mansavage/Beacon Staff

In his speech to the crowd, McConkie Jr. said gun violence affects all municipalities and identities.

“I would not want to be anywhere else anticipating the power of this group of people moving forward with a purpose,” McConkie Jr. said. “Peace is possible. We collectively decide that it’s going to happen because we make it happen.” 

Matthew Marcil, a sophomore political science major at Suffolk University, was also present at the rally. Marcil is the president of Suffolk University College Democrats, an organization that seeks to get students involved with the political process and the Democratic party. 

“We’re going to take any opportunity that we can to raise more awareness about gun violence and support this issue,” Marcil said. “That’s why we came out here today.”

Gemmel shared her frustration and fear with the crowd. Gemmel said she has daily worries that her high school sister will be another school shooting victim. 

“What if she’s next?” Gemmel shouted to the crowd. “What if she’s another statistic? Children should not be shot in school. This lack of common sense laws is a problem, and we must solve them.”

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About the Contributor
Emma Siebold
Emma Siebold, Staff Writer
Emma Siebold (she/her) is a first-year journalism major/political communications minor from Spring Branch, Texas. She is also an associate producer for WEBN-TV and editorial assistant at Emerson Today. Outside of the newsroom, Emma enjoys training with the Dashing Whippets running team, listening to folk music, and obsessing over Marvel movies.

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