Young People Are Demanding Action from Politicians to End Gun Violence
The headlines are relentless. The news breaking in our feeds just about every day, another shooting, another memorial for the dead, another video of students being rushed from a school into the arms of anguished parents.
Most major movements are sparked by the most impacted saying ENOUGH is ENOUGH. We’ve seen it with the struggles for racial equity and LGBTQ+ rights, and we’re seeing it today with young people across the country marching, rallying, organizing, and getting political to end gun violence in America.
Here’s how young people are leading the way.
Content Warning: Discussion of gun violence and death follows.
Guns and Kids in America
In the last couple of years, gun violence has become the leading cause of death for American children. (For context, according to the most recent data, more Americans died from gun violence in 2021 than in any other year on record—48,830 people overall.)
- Almost 4,000 children and teens are shot and killed each year (15,000 more are shot and injured)
- Car accidents, the second-leading cause, kill almost 3,500 children and teens each year
This is a uniquely American problem.
- US children ages 5-14 are 21 times more likely to be killed with a gun than children in other high-income countries
- US young people ages 15-24 are 23 times more likely!
According to research from Everytown for Gun Safety, the largest gun-violence prevention organization in the US, from 2013 to 2022 there were at least
- 750 incidents of gunfire on the grounds of a preschool, elementary, middle, or high school
- 245 deaths and 540 people wounded at a school (almost 50% of them students)
At least 74 people (students and staff) have been killed at schools so far in 2023 and it’s only May.
A New Generation of Activists
Students who survived the horrific 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, have emerged as bold, courageous leaders in the fight to end gun violence.
They launched March for Our Lives and have mobilized hundreds of thousands of young people, students, and parents to join their movement. Young people have formed other organizations too, like Students Demand Action (which emerged from Everytown). Young people are demanding action and saving lives.
In the Aftermath of Nashville
After the recent shooting at a Nashville school, Republican lawmakers in the state refused to take action. Nashville teens and children joined forces to take matters into their own hands. They marched to the State Capitol to demand an end to gun violence and were joined there by two young Black lawmakers, Justin Jones and Justin Pearson, who took up their cause.
Rather than reconsider, Tennessee Republicans instead:
- Voted to pass protections for gun companies and pushed to expand gun rights
- Expelled Justin Jones and Justin Pearson from the legislature (they were later reinstated by their communities)
Young People Are Getting Political and Demanding Action
This Republican refusal in Tennessee and around the country to protect children has inspired even more students and young people to make their voices heard.
Those students in Nashville flooded the capitol building to demand action. In fact, their protest sparked a nationwide student walkout. Young people are tired of seeing their friends, siblings, classmates, and teachers killed. They want change—and they’re not alone.
Americans Want Gun Violence to Stop
Young people have had and will always have a unique ability to shape politics and culture, along with the future they’ll inherit. Their leadership and activism have helped revive support for ending gun violence in America.
- 89% of Americans support background checks
- 86% support red-flag laws (laws that prevent people who are considered a threat to themselves or others from owning a gun)
- 63% support banning assault weapons
- 66% support the creation of a nationwide database to track gun sales
Why Don’t Lawmakers Do Something?
With young people demanding action, and with so much public support behind them, why hasn’t Congress done anything meaningful?
You’re not going to like the answer. It all comes down to $$$$.
Bottom line, pro-gun groups give a LOT more money to lawmakers than gun-violence prevention organizations do. Many politicians, most of them Republicans, get significant money from pro-gun groups—money that ensures they’ll keep doing absolutely nothing to end this epidemic.
End Gun Violence
True, President Biden issued executive orders, and yes, Congress passed a bipartisan if ultimately toothless compromise bill. But all that pro-gun money (along with outdated and antidemocratic rules like the filibuster) ensures that gun-violence prevention legislation is going nowhere.
Or at least that’s what the gun lobbyists want you to think. Because while young people may not have as much money to spend influencing politicians as the National Rifle Association (NRA), they are taking to the streets, they are raising their voices, and they’re doing it to literally save each other’s lives.
Let’s follow their lead. Join the movement! Find out how much your state representatives are getting from pro-gun groups, and call them out on it. Ask them how many more children have to die before we finally end gun violence.
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