Amid mass shootings two weekends in a row in Chattanooga, a local anti-gun violence advocate is calling for more sensible gun laws.
Shiloh McCulley, one of the organizers of March for Our Lives – Chattanooga, pointed out that the purpose of the march was to protest violence resulting from the misuse of firearms.
“This is an anti-gun violence, pro-peace march,” McCulley told the Chattanooga Times Free Press in an interview. “We are very bipartisan with this.”
The march is scheduled from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday. It will start at Miller Park, go down Market Street, turn onto Fifth Avenue, then down Georgia Street and back to Miller Park.
The event will feature Tennessee State Representative Yusuf Hakeem; writer, editor and Tennessee House candidate Allison Gorman; civil rights activist Marie Mott; Democratic congressional candidate Meg Gorman; and speaker Blake Kitterman.
(READ MORE: 3 dead, 17 total victims after shooting on McCallie Avenue in Chattanooga)
March for Our Lives – Chattanooga
When: June 11.
Where: Miller Park.
How to enter: bit.ly/MFOLchatt.
Time: noon to 2 p.m.
McCulley was preparing to attend the March for Our Lives event in Nashville on Saturday. After the May 28 mass shooting in downtown Chttanooga, however, he saw the need for Chattanooga to have its own march.
“Everyone is feeling this rage, this energy, with what’s going on right now,” McCulley said. “After the shooting, we thought we had to do something here. It’s happening in our own backyards.”
McCulley, who works in logistics, retired earlier this year from the US Army Reserves and said his passion for educating people and promoting gun safety came from his military training.
“I have six years of Reserve military experience,” McCulley said. “If I were to qualify for the military for my gun, every year, multiple times a year, we would have to expect more from our citizens. So that’s sort of where it all started.”
McCulley also stressed the importance of having programs and resources to engage children and teens as a means of diversion.
(READ MORE: Chattanooga Mayor Tim Kelly says Saturday night shooting started with teenage disagreement)
“People are dropping their kids off downtown, (so) we absolutely have to find resources to do things,” McCulley said. “Whether it’s volunteering, helping the elderly, or having special needs, we need to bridge the gap between after-school programs that really focus on training, education, and construction of our young people.
Chattanooga police say those involved in the May 28 shooting near 100 Walnut St. were between the ages of 13 and 15. A 15-year-old boy was arrested.
McCulley said that while military personnel are intensely trained to use and maintain their weapons and are constantly tested to ensure those weapons are being used correctly, the same is not true for private citizens.
Since the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, which left 19 children and two teachers dead, there have been more than 10 mass shootings across the United States, including another Sunday morning in Chattanooga that killed 17. Fourteen of them were shot down and three others were hit by vehicles. Two of the gunshot victims and one who was hit by a vehicle died.
The New England Journal of Medicine recently published a report in which he stated that firearms have become the leading cause of death among people aged 1 to 19.
Since the announcement of the Chattanooga event, McCulley said he has received great feedback through the event’s social media accounts as well as donations for those who show up to participate. He also said that although he contacted the office of Chattanooga Mayor Tim Kelly, he had yet to receive a response from anyone.
“A ton of responses, actually, from people wanting to volunteer. We actually got over 500 bottles of water for our walkers,” McCulley said. “We’re getting a lot of responses on our Facebook page, on Twitter. I’ve communicated with some reps back and forth on Twitter, so their response is getting great.”
McCulley also said that while the event has received positive feedback from the community and organizers have already recruited volunteers, they are inviting more people to join on Saturday.
“People can get involved. They can find us on Facebook on our March for Our Lives – Chattanooga page,” McCulley said. We are on the March for our national lives website as well. If people want to volunteer, we are looking for volunteers. »