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What's Next For Gun-Control Activists After 'March For Our Lives'?

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

After a day of March for Our Lives rallies in Washington, D.C., and around the country, student leaders of the movement are hoping to turn this energy and passion into political action. Patrick Madden of member station WAMU reports.

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PATRICK MADDEN, BYLINE: Parkland shooting survivor Cameron Kasky opened up Saturday's rally by challenging opponents of stricter gun laws.

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CAMERON KASKY: To the leaders, skeptics and cynics who told us to sit down and stay silent, welcome to the revolution.

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MADDEN: Kasky's speech set the tone for the day. With the white dome of the U.S. Capitol in the background, the speakers said they want lawmakers to overhaul the nation's gun laws.

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KASKY: The people demand a law banning the sale of assault weapons. The people demand we prohibit the sale of high-capacity magazines. The people demand universal background checks. Stand for us or beware. The voters are coming.

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UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Folks, you need to register to vote. Everybody registered? You registered?

MADDEN: Throughout the day, hundreds of volunteers in neon-yellow shirts fanned out to register voters from nearly every state. Young people are not considered the most consistent group at the ballot box. But Arieyanna Williams, a high schooler from Chicago, said they will build on the momentum from school walkouts earlier this month.

ARIEYANNA WILLIAMS: We've walked out of school now, as everyone knows. But now it's time to walk in to start voting.

MADDEN: This outburst of activism was sparked by last month's school shooting in Parkland, Fla., that left 17 dead. The focus is not only on school safety but also urban gun violence that often affects minority neighborhoods. The activists want more investment in their communities, like mentorships and job training. Williams lost her father and two uncles to gun violence.

WILLIAMS: I live violence every day. And I'm tired of it.

MADDEN: Williams is a member of the Peace Warriors, a student-led group that's been fighting gun violence for nearly a decade. They're now working with the student leaders from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. Older people at the rally said they were ready to put their faith in these young activists. Michael Schulman's son Scott was a teacher at Stoneman Douglas and died during the shooting.

MICHAEL SCHULMAN: Because there are some very, very articulate young people who are speaking out, who will not be shut down. I'm 64 years old. My generation screwed it up. Maybe this generation can fix what we screwed up.

MADDEN: The Parkland teens have dubbed theirs the mass shooting generation. Another round of school walkouts are planned for next month. For NPR News in Washington, I'm Patrick Madden. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.