Updated: Sep 18, 2018
Article by Matt Youngblood
On Saturday, March 24, 2018, marches occurred across the country with the objective of putting public pressure on elected officials to make changes to gun laws. These marches were in response to the shooting in Parkland, Florida a month earlier. The gun control debate is one of many which fuels the contention and rift between Republicans and Democrats. With the exception of the Tea Party movement which reached its peak during the 2010 midterm elections, marches which have gotten national attention have generated from either the far left (Women’s March, Occupy Wall Street) or the alt right (Charlottesville). For pro-Second Amendment conservatives, there is a non-profit which shares their values called March For Our Rights. We had the chance to speak with the chairwoman Xena Amirani about the non-profit.
Expressions: Give us some background about yourself.
XA: I am a junior at USC (University of Southern California). I was born and raised in Malibu, California. My family is Iranian and immigrated to the United States before I was born.
Expressions: Where did you get your passion for politics?
XA: When I was 12 years old, I [took an interest] in politics internationally. I saw how Iran was authoritarian; how the people had complaints about the government there; and how America was so much more successful because it was so much more of a free country. And I came to the conclusion that the freer a nation is the better the people are who live in that nation. I came to develop libertarian views. Since then, it’s been libertarian right, libertarian conservative views, and I still maintain those views. And I guess my interest in libertarianism gave me a passion for the Constitution and the Second Amendment.
Expressions: How did March For Our Rights get started?
XA: March For Our Rights got started because two high school students Michele and Anthony talked about it on a Facebook chat, and they were really interested [in starting an organization]. The media was covering all of these high school marches that were pro-gun control and they were like, “We want to have a march to counter that.” I was added to the group chat by my friend Morgan, and I told them, “This is how we become a real organization. This is how we become a non-profit. So, who’s in and who’s not?” [Many] people who were originally in quit whenever they realized how much work and how serious it would be. And all the people who have stuck around helped turn March For Our Rights into a national organization. We filed [for 501c3 and 501c4 tax exempt status] in April, and we got approved in May. Ever since then, I have been the CEO or chairwoman, and I have led the movement on a corporate level and a national level.
Expressions: That’s an American dream story. How difficult was it to get in contact with people and get the different marches organized?
XA: Honestly, that was the most difficult part of getting [the organization] up and running. It is so hard to organize things nationally with people you’ve never met and probably never will meet, [plus] they are not getting paid and doing it all on a volunteer basis. People are very unwilling to do things on schedule. They have to deal with a lot of drama. People underestimate how difficult it’s going to be. That was the most difficult part. It was so stressful. I wouldn’t sleep for days on end; while I run March For Our Rights, I am also a full time student and have a summer job. Every living minute of free time I had I spent organizing March For Our Rights, [juggling all the different tasks] I had to do, but also kinda like playing mom to everyone by picking up loose ends; catching up when someone else was left behind; and making sure that everything was run smoothly.
Expressions: You must have a good work ethic to do all of that.
XA: Honestly, I don’t think so. I was just really really passionate about this, and I think that passion was what made it happen. I think it’s more about my passion than my work ethic.
Expressions: So, it’s not work to you?
XA: Mostly, no. I felt like it was something that needed to happen. I am so passionate and dedicated to making it happen. It’s what I love to do. If I could do this forever, I would. I would put all my drive into it.
Expressions: Who knows? You just might.
XA: Yeah. I really hope I do. I hope this becomes something that is successful and long lasting.
Expressions: Something from nothing. That is the American dream.
XA: That’s what’s so amazing about this country. If you know what you’re doing, you can start your own company. Success depends on whether or not you can run it successfully.
Expressions: What was the impact of the marches? Have you been able to measure that?
XA: Honestly, the rewarding part of it was getting the media attention. I think that’s the most important thing. We got attention from Fox, ABC, CBS, etc. Other groups learn about who you are. What happened in our case? After somebody saw me on Fox, they invited me to speak at a really cool high school conference, JSA. After I spoke at their conference, at least five different high school students came up to me and [said] that I single handedly changed their mind on the entire gun rights discussion. I thought that was awesome that I changed their mind on the whole debate. That’s what the impact really is — how we are changing minds. Maybe the marches on their own didn’t change minds, but it helped us get recognition. They helped the news cover the fact that there are people in different parts of the country who are so willing and passionate to stand up for something they believe in. That attention has a domino effect.
Expressions: You guys had another march called the March for the NRA. How successful was that?
XA: It was actually really really successful. I led the one here in Southern California Orange County area. We brought out 100 people, and we had a counter protest. After the protest, we actually talked to people on the other side and had discussions and debates with them — we were able to change some of their minds on some gun related issues.
Expressions: What’s the next thing on the agenda?
XA: Our next step is to expand to campuses. We are working on developing Students for Our Rights chapters. This will be the student arm of March for Our Rights. They will be able to have different speakers whether they’re March for Our Rights representatives like myself or big well known political speakers come out to schools and talk to students about the Second Amendment.