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Oxford survivors to lead 2nd annual march against gun violence

Organizers say nearly six hundred people showed up to the March for Our Lives demonstration in Oxford on June 11, 2022.
April Van Buren
Michigan Radio
Organizers say nearly six hundred people showed up to the March for Our Lives demonstration in Oxford on June 11, 2022. They'll hold their second annual march this Saturday. More than half a dozen similar rallies will take place around the state.

Growing up, Olivia McMillan had a fear of school shootings.

“It was always in the back of my mind,” she said, ever since 17 people were killed in the Parkland massacrein 2018. “[I was] having nightmares about it.”

Then, in 2021, she was a senior at Oxford High School when a student opened fire, killing four students, including McMillan’s close friend, Justin Shilling.

But McMillan and other survivors have refused to let their fear or their loss define them. Both current and former Oxford students formed No Future Without Today, a platform they’re using to push for gun restrictions like assault weapon bans.

On Saturday, they’ll hold their second annual march through downtown Oxford, ending at the high school for a moment of silence.

McMillan said Michigan’s recently-passed gun lawsare a promising start.

“We're very grateful that we passed background checks, red flag laws and safe storage,” she said. “But there's still so much more we have to do. So it's mainly focused on remembering like the people we've lost, especially in Oxford: Justin, Hannah, Tate and Madison. But also being like, ‘We're not stopping here.’”

In the past year, Oxford survivors have traveled to Washington D.C. and been able to learn from other student-led groups, like the Newtown and Parkland survivors. They’ve also worked with and joined groups like End Gun Violence Michigan.

“A lot of [the advice] is like, ‘Take time for yourself,’” McMillan said. “Like, obviously, we have to push, but like, everyone went through something that you actually have to think about, how it's affecting you personally. Not go full force into all of the regulations and legislation and all that.”

The Oxford rally is one of several anti-gun violence marcheshappening around the state this Saturday, including those in Detroit, Ann Arbor, Pontiac, Grand Haven and Southfield.

Kate Wells is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently covering public health. She was a 2023 Pulitzer Prize finalist for her abortion coverage.
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