Things That Matter

Lalo Alcaraz Has Painted Emma Gonzalez, The Face Of The Gun Control Debate, And Here’s How People Are Reacting

CNN / YouTube / @laloalcaraz / Twitter

One of the most impactful moments since the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, is that of Emma Gonzalez calling BS on politicians and gun laws. The 18-year-old senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is leading the fight against school violence. The teenager has become the face of a new movement of young people demanding change on gun laws.

Emma Gonzalez became a viral sensation after her impassioned speech at a Feb. 17 rally following the Florida school shooting.

People across the world heard her words that were directed at the National Rifle Association (NRA) and President Donald Trump. One of those people captivated by Emma’s passion and determination to create a safe environment for children was illustrator Lalo Alcaraz.

Lalo Alcaraz was so moved by Gonzalez and her speech that he created an illustration of her.

CREDIT: Lalo Alcaraz

“I was awed by her speech, and by all of the courage and responsibility these young people have taken on,” Alcaraz said. “I had been thinking about it for a day or so after I watched her, and then someone on Facebook nudged me and said ‘WE NEED AN EMMA CARTOON FROM YOU.'”

As soon as the image went live, people have been sharing Alcaraz’ illustration of Gonzalez everywhere.

CREDIT: Twitter/@katwardphoto

Alcaraz admits that it took more than one attempt to capture the emotion he saw in Gonzalez that day.

“I drew a realistic version of her, and I tossed it,” Alcaraz said. “I then did a quick caricature that I hoped would capture her anger and determination, her loss of innocence — that all these kids had just gone through as well and I think it worked.”

People are sharing photos of themselves with Gonzalez’ drawing all over social media.

Alcaraz has posted his own photos of fans using his art in protests recently.

“The response has been overwhelming to say the least,” Alcaraz tells mitú. “People need a rallying image, I hope this one helps the movement.”

Even Gonzalez herself tweeted the image and loves it.

Alcaraz said he is very relieved and honored to know Gonzalez approved of his illustration.

As of now, the image of Gonzalez can be printed for free but Alcaraz adds that he is currently redesigning the image for a t-shirt printing after fans demanded them. He said the new image will have the Never Again hashtag, and will be available for purchase on his online Art Shop.

He also added that all proceeds from sales of this t-shirt will go towards the Never Again movement or a gun control activist group.

Alcaraz hopes the t-shirts will be ready to go by the time Gonzalez and countless more take to the streets for the March of Our Lives demonstration taking place on March 24 in Washington D.C. and across the nation.

READ: This Teenager Was Shot 5 Times During The Florida School Shooting While Protecting A Room Full Of People

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Two Pulse Survivors Are Hosting An Anti-LGBTQ+ March Just Five Minutes Away From The Nightclub

Culture

Two Pulse Survivors Are Hosting An Anti-LGBTQ+ March Just Five Minutes Away From The Nightclub

_alivingwitness / Instagram

On June 12, 2016, an armed man entered Pulse Nightclub and opened fire. Forty-nine people died that night as a result and 53 were injured. The shooting was the most deadly shooting at the time. Now, two survivors are claiming they are no longer gay after finding Christ and are marching in the name of conversion five minutes away from the deadly attack.

Angel Colon and Luis Javier Ruiz survived the Pulse Nightclub massacre and have since claimed they are no longer gay men.

Credit: @fearlessidentity / Instagram

In the aftermath of the shooting, Colon and Ruiz have created an organization to promote the debunked and dangerous theory that homosexuality is something that can be changed. It has been scientifically proven that sexual orientation and gender identity cannot be changed at will. There have recently been high-profile examples of former conversion therapy advocates coming out as gay and rejecting the mentality that it is something that can be “fixed.”

As part of their ministry, Colon and Ruiz are hosting a “Freedom March” on Sept. 14 in Orlando five minutes from the remains of the Pulse Nightclub.

Credit: @BillyCorben / Twitter

Ruiz and Colon told NBC News that their mission is not to forcibly change anyone’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

“We’re trying to equip churches, even if they’re not gay-affirming churches, with the resources they need and teach them not to judge the LGBTQ community,” Colon explained to NBC News. “We’re trying to share our stories through ministry and share the testimonies of people who’ve come out of the homosexual lifestyle.”

The march has been received with mixed reviews with many in the LGBTQ+ community seeing the march as an attack on the community.

Credit: @jota_sexteam / Twitter

There is also a sentiment that the march is an insult to the memories of those who died that night simply for being part of the LGBTQ+ community.

“While we honor the freedom for expressions of faith, and hold the beauty of religiosity in our community, we cannot condone the gross misuse of religious text and faith to exploit LGBTQ+ people or support conversion therapy,” Christopher Cuevas, the executive director of QLatinx, wrote in an email to NBC News. “The expressions of our queer and transgender identities are the embodiment of divinity and grace, because we are living our most radical truth by celebrating and centering our LGBTQ+ identity.”

Ruiz has suggested that people can choose their sexuality and their path.

However, what Ruiz fails to understand is that scientific studies are proving more and more that is it the genetic makeup and brain chemistry that dictate a person’s sexual orientation. Studies have proved that people have not better of a chance to change their sexual orientation than they do their hair or eye color.

LGBTQ+-friendly religious organizations have reached out to Orlando asking for help stopping the march.

Credit: @qchristianorg / Twitter

“The Freedom March describes their movement as ‘former homosexuals and transgenders sharing our testimonies and celebrating our freedom.’ At Q Christian Fellowship, our members have far too much experience with the damage that can be done by organizations promoting ‘ex-gay’ ideologies and conversion therapies premised on the false and dangerous claim that people must be ‘delivered from LGBTQ+ lifestyles,'” reads the open letter. “You should be aware that The Freedom March possesses significant organizational overlap with anti-LGBTQ+ groups such as Equipped to Love, the Changed Movement, and Moral Revolution, which describes itself as ‘a company of radicals helping to define a healthy sexuality’ in a ‘generation overwhelmed by conflicting messages about love, lust, and relationships.'”

But, some LGBTQ+ community members are spreading the message of love being the most powerful weapon against this anti-LGBTQ+ movement.

Credit: @emilyjoypoetry / Twitter

Love is one of the most powerful tools in anyone’s arsenal. In the face of a march trying to tell young LGBTQ+ people that they can change, it is important that people raise their voices in love and support. Being LGBTQ+ is okay and natural.

READ: He Survived The Shooting In Orlando And He Is Now Telling His Story

March For Our Lives Just Announced A Bold New Proposal For Gun Control Legislation And It Has Our Future All Over It

Things That Matter

March For Our Lives Just Announced A Bold New Proposal For Gun Control Legislation And It Has Our Future All Over It

We don’t need to see another mass shooting dominate the news cycle to know that America needs gun reform now. But despite a series of mass shootings in the United States in recent years — and two in the past couple of weeks — elected officials and the administration still aren’t in any rush to reform our gun laws and policies in America. 

Instead, students who have survived mass shootings in their lifetime are the ones taking charge and fighting for gun control in our country. 

On Wednesday, August 21, the students who survived a mass shooting last year at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida have unveiled an ambitious gun-control proposal called “A Peace Plan for a Safer America.”

Yesterday after announcing their gun-control proposal, March For Our Lives — a platform and organization focused on voter registration and outreach across the U.S. — tweeted that “gun violence is intersectional. It feeds off of poverty, injustice, and despair. So that means that our plans — to be truly comprehensive — need to be intersectional too.” 

Their gun-control proposal was exclusively obtained by The Washington Post and the publication reports that the plan goes beyond the current discussion surrounding background checks for those who want to buy or own a gun and “red flag” laws, which applies to people who could be a danger to themselves and others if in ownership of a gun. 

According to the Washington Post, Parkland’s gun-proposal plan aims to create a “national licensing and gun registry, long a nonstarter with gun rights advocates; ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines; implement a mandatory gun buyback program; and install a ‘national director of gun violence protection’ who would report directly to the president and coordinate the federal response to what advocates call a national public health emergency.” 

The Parkland students and survivors also unveiled this gun control plan ahead of the 2020 presidential race accordingly. 

They’re looking to shape the presidential race and influence the candidates (including Donald Trump) to consider their proposed gun laws and enforcement.

Beto O’Rourke, the Democratic candidate running for president in 2020 from El Paso, Texas has been open about gun-control and reform in American even more so after the El Paso and Dayton Ohio mass shootings that occurred earlier this month. Further, he made gun control a focus of his campaign now that he’s back on the campaign trail. 

He has also already spoken out in support of the Peace Plan. In a tweet, he encouraged people to follow the lead of the Parkland students marching for their lives and for the lives of everybody else in order to “end this epidemic.” He concluded his tweet of support by calling on everyone in the presidential race — and the country — to do the same and support their plan. 

Further, the “Peace Plan for a Safer America” will work to dramatically increase restrictions around owning guns — for example, the plan proposes that we raise the age from 21 to 18 for those who want to buy and own guns. It also wants to implement a “multi-step” gun licensing system to be overseen by a federal agency. This gun licensing system would include in-person interviews and a 10-day wait before an individual of age 21 or older are allowed to make a gun purchase. According to The Washington Post, the license would be renewed annually. 

The plan is being referred to as the “Green New Deal”  of guns, taking a “holistic approach” to gun violence in America. The plan is also proposing community-based solutions to gun violence including mental health services. 

Here’s a breakdown of what “A Peace Plan for a Safer America” entails:

1. Change the standards of gun ownership:

By changing the standards of gun ownership, the Peace Plan aims to advocate and pass legislation to raise the national standard for gun ownership. This is where the national licensing and registry will come into play. It also includes their proposed national gun buy-back program to reduce the millions of firearms that are in circulation by at least 30%. 

2. Halve the rate of gun deaths in 10 years: 

The Peace Plan has set an ambitious goal to reduce gun injuries and deaths by 50% in 10 years. This would amount to saving the lives of up to 200,000 Americans.  

3. Accountability for the gun lobby and industry:

In its third step, the Peace Plan will hold the gun lobby and industry accountable for decades of “illegal behavior” and dangerous policies that have not worked to protect the American people. 

4. Name a director of gun violence prevention:

The Peace Plan proposes the appointment of a National Director of Gun Violence who will report directly to the President. The National Director of Gun Violence would oversee a down payment of $250 million in annual funding for research by the CDC and other federal agencies on gun violence prevention. 

5. Generate community-based solutions:

The plan would also fully fund targeted community-based solutions addressing the intersectional dimensions of gun violence. These interventions would include urban violence reduction programs, suicide prevention programs, domestic violence prevention programs, and other mental health services. 

6. Empower the next generation.

Lastly, the Peace Plan aims to mobilize young registered voters. The plan would automatically register eligible voters and mail voter registration to all Americans when they turn 18. 

In a statement to CBS News, co-founder of March For Our Lives and Parkland shooting survivor, David Hogg told the publication that “for too long we have looked to elected officials to solve America’s gun violence crisis and time and time again, they have fallen to the pressure of NRA donations and the status quo.” 

Enough is enough, he continued, elected officials have failed to do their job and protect the lives of Americans across the country and it has led to deadly consequences. 

“It is clear that the time for thoughts and prayers has come and gone,” Hogg added. “It is now time for real change and real action.” 

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