At this year’s National Citizen Leadership Conference, we got the chance to ask citizen leaders from across the nation key questions about why they support the 28th Amendment to ensure fair elections and get big money out of politics.
We were honored that three of the student leaders from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, joined us to share how the 28th Amendment overlaps with their goal of reducing gun violence in American schools.
In this interview, recent MSD graduate Noah Damiani chats with American Promise Citizen Empowerment Coordinator Wambui Gatheru about why he has put himself into the national spotlight to fight for a cause that’s of life-changing importance to him.
Wambui Gatheru: What’s one issue you want to solve with the passage of the 28th Amendment?
Noah Damiani: The first thing I would want to solve is the gun violence epidemic. The NRA has a chokehold on our politicians. I think if we were to give the voice back to the American people, they would decide via our representatives what would be best. With the 90% of people who support universal background checks, I think if politicians didn’t have the NRA’s influence they would take an initiative on that.
WG: So you’re saying right now politicians are listening to donors, like the NRA, instead of constituents. Do you think that was a factor in what happened at your school?
ND: If there were laws in place that made it harder for people to get weapons of mass destruction, I do believe it could have been prevented. I think the laws on background checks are too loose. If you are a law-abiding citizen, I think you should be able to get a gun for self-defense and hunting. But if you are not mentally stable, you should not have access to those weapons. Our Congress is not taking much initiative to protect us, and I think that’s largely due to the fact that they’re getting money from the NRA.
WG: You had the opportunity to meet with one of your elected officials. Can you talk about how that meeting went, and did anything happen because of it?
ND: Yes, I met with Marco Rubio one month after the shooting occurred, and I think it went pretty well. It sounded like he was listening to what I had to say, however afterward he didn’t take any action. I do remember one thing he specifically said: He said we could wait until November when a bunch of gun control advocates are elected into office in Congress, or we can do something that can get passed in this Congress now, and that’s what he wanted to do. He said he didn’t want to wait until November because another shooting could occur, which is very true. And another shooting did occur, which was largely due to their inaction. He largely didn’t follow up on this work.
WG: Do you think that has to do with the fact that the NRA is one of his biggest donors?
ND: Yes, definitely. I don’t think he would be as radical in his beliefs about the 2nd Amendment if it wasn’t the NRA that was supporting him. Yes, he has his individual beliefs about what may or may not prevent future tragedies, but I do believe it’s largely due to the NRA.
WG: Once the 28th Amendment is passed, what kind of America do you see?
ND: I believe nowadays we live in an oligarchy, and that’s due to the fact that large corporations control what gets passed in Congress. When the 28th Amendment is passed, I believe the American people will be more satisfied with their Congress. Congress as as whole has a very low approval rating, largely because their constituents are not listened to. People will be happier with what’s going on in Congress, Washington won’t have such a bad reputation, and Americans as a whole will be more listened to and more satisfied with the way our government is run.
WG: You just graduated high school, congratulations. What are you looking forward to in your future?
ND: I’m looking forward to practicing law—first studying it then practicing it. I’m not sure what type of law I want to go into, but whatever law I do go into I hope to create change and have an impact on society.