The 75-year-old musician was among those marching on the streets of New York City, blocks away from the site his Beatle bandmate John Lennon was shot and killed 37 years ago.
“One of my best friends was killed in gun violence right around here so it’s important to me,” McCartney told CNN’s Jason Carroll in a live broadcast, while wearing a “We can end gun violence” T-shirt.
“I don’t know [if we can end gun violence]” he added. “But this is what we can do, so I’m here to do it.”
Lennon was returning from the recording studio in New York City with his wife Yoko Ono in December 1980 when gunman Mark David Chapman fired five round into his back, killing him in the archway of his home, The Dakota Building.
March for Our Lives in Washington D.C. was planned by Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students Jaclyn Corin, Cameron Kasky, David Hogg, Emma Gonzalez and Alex Wind within days of the Feb. 14 mass shooting at the Parkland, Florida, school, which left 17 of their classmates dead.
According to the rally’s website, the current generation of students has grown up practicing drills and lockdowns at school while repeatedly watching mass shootings play out in other cities and states — a pattern of violence unique to America.
“March For Our Lives is created by, inspired by, and led by students across the country who will no longer risk their lives waiting for someone else to take action to stop the epidemic of mass school shootings that has become all too familiar,” reads the event’s mission statement, in part. “In the tragic wake of the seventeen lives brutally cut short in Florida, politicians are telling us that now is not the time to talk about guns. March For Our Lives believes the time is now.”
While attendees proceeded through the heart of the nation’s capital begging at noon on Saturday, over 800 “sibling marches” in other cities around the world took off too.
“There are strength in numbers, and that’s why we need so many of you to help,” Stoneman Douglas Student Jaclyn Corin said from the D.C. rally. “We cannot ‘keep America great’ if we cannot keep america safe. And 96 death by firearm every day is not what I would call great.”
Yolana Renee King, granddaughter of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s and Coretta Scott King, also took the stage in D.C.
“My grandfather had a dream that his four little children will not be judged by the color of their skin but of the constant of their character. I have a dream that enough is enough and that this should be a gun-free room, period,” she said, asking the crowd to repeat after her. “Spread the word, have you heard, all across the nation, we are going to be a great generation.”
Many stars also took to social media to share their photos from the march, including Jim Carrey, Lady Gaga, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Kim Kardashian West, and Liev Schreiber — who marched with his kids, Samuel Kai, 9, and Alexander Pete, 10.
But the March for Our Lives was not about star power.
As Stoneman Douglas Student Ryan Deitsch said in his D.C. speech, “Movie stars in the crowd, we might have videos on these screens but this is not the Oscars. This is real life, this is reality, this is what’s happening in our country and around the world today.”
“We’re done hiding, we’re done being afraid,” he said. “Though I know we March today, this isn’t the end. This is the beginning. It’s time to fight for our lives.”