Panic at US gun control rally as man tries to rush stage

The man was filmed shouting ‘I’m not shooting the school’ (Picture: AP/Getty Images)

Protesters at the March for Our Lives rally in Washington D.C. were sent running after a man tried to run onto the stage.

The counter-demonstrator threw and object into the crowd and screamed ‘I’m not shooting the school’ as he was detained.

People were seen cowering on the floor or running away, as many were understandably afraid he had a gun.

This was not the case, and the speaker on stage afterwards assured the crowd that they were not in danger.

Not long before, at around 1.30pm local time, a person standing near a group of counter-protesters started yelling during a moment of silence for gun violence victims.

This prompted some people in the crowd to run away and several people were seen crying afterwards.

Thousands of people streamed to the US National Mall in Washington D.C. as part of country-wide demonstrations to demand greater gun control in America.

The stunt came moments after a group of counter-protesters yelled during a moment of silence (Picture: Reuters)
The counter-protester jumps the barricade in an attempt to disrupt the March for Our Lives rally (Picture: Getty Images)
People ducked for cover after the rally was interrupted by the man, who threw an object into the crowd (Picture: AP)
The man was not believed to be armed, but he caused a huge panic among the crowd (Picture: Getty Images)

The high-profile effort to change the laws follow recent mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas, and Buffalo, New York, that activists say should compel US congress to act.

Organisers hoped the second March For Our Lives rally would draw as many as 50,000 people to the Washington Monument in the US capital.

That would be far fewer than the 200,000 people at the original 2018 march, but activists have decided to focus on smaller marches at an estimated 300 locations across the US.

Despite wet weather in the US capital, scores of people turned out on the monument grounds well before the rally began, holding up signs, including one that said: ‘Children aren’t replaceable, senators are. Vote.’

A middle school-age girl carried a sign that read: ‘I want to feel safe at school’.

The first March For Our Lives was spurred by the killings of 14 students and three staff members by a former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Valentine’s Day, 2018.

Karin LaBanca comforts two survivors of the Sandy Hook mass shooting after the man tried to rush the stage (Picture: AP)
He was detained and the rally was able to carry on, after protesters were forced to run (Picture: Getty Images)
Thousands of people packed the National Mall in Washington D.C. today (Picture: AFP/Getty Images)
X Gonzalez, survivor from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting in 2018 and co-founder of March For Our Lives, speaks at today’s rally (Picture: Reuters)
Demonstrators are calling for tighter restrictions after what feels like an endless wave of mass shootings (Picture: Getty Images)

That massacre sparked the creation of the youth-led March For Our Lives movement, which successfully pressured the Republican-dominated Florida state government to enact sweeping gun control reforms.

The Parkland students then sought to change gun laws in other states and nationally, launching March For Our Lives and holding the big rally in Washington on March 24, 2018.

The group did not match the Florida results at the national level, but it has persisted in advocating for gun restrictions since then, as well as participating in voter registration drives.

Now, with another string of mass shootings bringing gun control back into the national conversation in the US, organisers of this weekend’s events say the time is right to renew their push for a national overhaul.

‘Right now we are angry,’ said Mariah Cooley, a March For Our Lives board member and a senior at Washington’s Howard University.

The crowd was sent into a panic, fearing the man who tried to rush the stage was armed (Picture: AP)
Activists are holding marches at an estimated 300 locations across the US (Picture: Reuters)
Demonstrators dropped to the floor to take cover after the stage invasion (Picture: AP)
The March for Our Lives movement was inspired by the 2018 Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida (Picture: AP)

‘This will be a demonstration to show that us as Americans, we’re not stopping any time soon until congress does their jobs. And if not, we’ll be voting them out.’

It comes at a time of renewed political activity on guns and a crucial moment for possible action in US congress.

Survivors of mass shootings and other incidents of gun violence have lobbied legislators and testified on Capitol Hill this week.

Among them was Miah Cerrillo, an 11-year-old girl who survived the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.

She described for members of congress how she covered herself with a dead classmate’s blood to avoid being shot.

On Tuesday, Hollywood star Matthew McConaughey appeared in the White House briefing room to press for gun legislation, and made highly personal remarks about the violence in his hometown of Uvalde.

The US house of representatives has passed bills that would raise the age limit to buy semi-automatic weapons and establish federal ‘red flag’ laws.

But such initiatives have traditionally stalled or been heavily watered down in the US senate.

Democratic and Republican senators had hoped to reach agreement this week on a framework for addressing the issue and discussed it yesterday, but they did not announce an accord.

Mr Mumin said the goal is to send a message to members of congress that public opinion on gun control is shifting under their feet.

‘If they’re not on our side, there are going to be consequences – voting them out of office and making their lives a living hell when they’re in office,’ he said.

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