Nantucket Residents Rally In Protest Of Gun Violence

Jason Graziadei •

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Just hours after Maryann Vasquez-Cruz received her high school diploma on Saturday, she wasn’t partying with her classmates or celebrating with her family.

Vasquez-Cruz was on the steps of the Methodist Church in downtown Nantucket, assailing the nation’s gun lobby and calling for stricter firearm regulations in front of a crowd of nearly three dozen people

“Hundreds of children are dying due to gun violence,” said Vasquez-Cruz. “They will never feel the joy of decorating their cap, walking to the stage and grabbing their diploma, breaking an ankle due to their uncomfortable heels, throwing their caps up into the air, and crying together with their friends and family. To know that they had made it. They have been robbed of the life they deserved, the ones they always dreamed of.”

Saturday’s gathering, organized by the group Indivisible Nantucket and the island’s clergy, was a rally against gun violence and part of the nationwide “March For Our Lives” protests over the weekend.

Vasquez-Cruz, who was one of the student leaders who spoke at the Nantucket High School walkout in protest of gun violence last month, was joined by Rev. Linda Simmons, Rev. Max Wolf, and 2021 Nantucket High School graduate JohnCarl McGrady in sharing remarks during Saturday’s rally.

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“Sacrifice?” Vasquez-Cruz asked the crowd. “We, the children of America, were and are being viewed as a sacrifice. We did not agree to lose our lives for their cause. We did not choose to die to allow them to carry their weapons on display, hunt for sport, and continue to enable more people's deaths. We are being ruled by the past, following an amendment whose incentives are now subjective. It's clear that in this present time, we need stricter gun laws, background checks, and better gun safety and storage training. Why is this so much to ask?”

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McGrady was a student at Nantucket High School in 2019 when a false alarm prompted a panicked lockdown as students, faculty and law enforcement responded as if an active shooter situation was unfolding. He recalled that experience while remarking on how sad it was that he had given similar remarks at previous events in protest of gun violence, and that he expected he would be doing so again.

“I know what it’s like to sit in a classroom and think that somebody is outside in the hallway, trying to kill you,” McGrady said. “I know what it's like to hide behind a desk while kids are having panic attacks ten feet away and you can't help them because the shooter might see you.”

Nearly a month after the Uvalde, Texas, school shooting, a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators announced on Sunday a modest proposal to curb mass shootings.

"Our plan increases needed mental health resources, improves school safety and support for students, and helps ensure dangerous criminals and those who are adjudicated as mentally ill can't purchase weapons," the group said in a statement. "Most importantly, our plan saves lives while also protecting the constitutional rights of law-abiding Americans."

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