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Briefings: Warren to March for Our Lives in Springfield…

Sen. Elizabeth Warren last year in Worcester (WMassP&I)

SPRINGFIELD—United States Senator Elizabeth Warren is slated to attend the Springfield March for Our Lives this Saturday. The nationwide marches, organized by survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, aim to tighten the nation’s gun laws. By speaking at Springfield’s march, Warren will be highlighting a city with a unique place in the gun debate.

Springfield hosts Smith & Wesson, but also suffers gravely from gun violence, a dichotomy national media have noted. The gunfire terrorizing Springfield’s streets rarely gets the attention mass shootings do. Yet, March for Our Lives organizers have made clear the goal is to arrest gun violence of all types.

The Springfield March for Our Lives Facebook event page advertised Warren’s participation in a recent post. A spokesperson for Warren confirmed she would attend and be part of the speaking program.

Since a gunman burst into Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14, policymakers, commentators, and advocates have noticed something different. Normally, heart-wrenching tragedies in schools, nightclubs, concerts, theaters, and churches produce demands for action met with opposition and/or resign the status quo will prevail.

If even the slaughter of 20 elementary school children in Sandy Hook could provoke no change, why would 17 murders in Parkland be any different?

Parkland students say the March for Our Lives is only the beginning. (via NBC News)

But the Parkland students have kept the issue in the news far longer than expected. This appears in part because the survivors, though just below or at voting age, can articulate a firm position and raise their voice. Savvy in social media, they also beat back trolls, bots and even (in)famous cretins seeking to undermine them.

Their efforts have led to a national March for Our Lives on Washington to advocate for comprehensive background checks and military-grade weapon bas. Cognizant that their inner city peers’ efforts have not drawn the same notice, Parkland students have emphasized policy changes must consider urban communities beset by daily gun violence, too.

Warren’s choice of Springfield is significant for several reasons. It was not immediately known if she will attend other marches. Yet she has not shortage of choices. The March for Our Lives website identifies no fewer than 12 sibling marches in Massachusetts. Five scheduled for the 413. Enfield right over the Connecticut border will host one, too.

The juxtaposition of Smith & Wesson, whose holding company is called American Outdoor Brands Company, is of note, too. But that point may be too obvious.

By joining the Springfield March for Our Lives, Warren will be turn the spotlight on a city whose gun violence gets too little attention beyond brief belches of salacious television coverage. Some outlets produce sober assessments of the human and community toll, but not on the scale larger cities/media markets can.

To be fair, City Hall reports that crime has fallen. Springfield has recorded fewer homicides in recent years. Still, not all the victims of gun violence die and many live on bearing deep scars.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren in Springfield last year. Her events in the city draw crowds and attention. (WMassP&I)

There is another angle to consider. Since Donald Trump took office, civic participation has been running hot. It has even flickered a bit more in Springfield. A rally for women’s reproductive health last year attracted a decent crowd to City Hall.

Still, outside the activist class, engagement and participation in Springfield remains lower than in many peer cities.

Concentrating Warren’s star power here may ensure a community in need of the attention and engagement on this matter receives it.