Americans Against Gun Violence is please to announce that our 2020 National High School Essay Contest is now open to all U.S. High School Students. A total of $15,000 will be awarded to twelve winners. The deadline for students to enter is April 18, 2020. See below for full contest details and the link to the online entry form.


Essay Topic

  • To enter the 2020 Americans Against Gun Violence National High School Essay Contest, students must submit an original essay of 500 words or fewer describing their thoughts about the following position statement published by the American Academy of Pediatrics in the April, 2000 issue of the journal, Pediatrics:

 Firearm regulations, to include bans of handguns and assault weapons, are the most effective way to reduce firearm-related injuries.

Contest Eligibility, Rules, and Link to Online Entry Form

  • Contestants must be high school students in good standing attending school in the United States or its territories.
  • Students who entered high school on track to graduate in 2020 but who graduated early are also eligible.
  • First and second degree relatives of Americans Against Gun Violence Board members, employees, and paid consultants are not eligible.
  • Contestants are encouraged to discuss the essay topic with teachers, parents, friends, and other mentors, but each contestant must write the essay himself or herself, in his or her own words.
  • Contestants who are under the age of 18 must have the consent of a parent or legal guardian to enter the contest.
  • To enter the contest, students must submit their essays and demographic information via this link. (The link has been deactivated as the deadline has passed for students to enter the 2020 essay contest. The winning essays in the 2020 contest will be posted on this page in late May or early June. Click on the Past Essay Contests link on the right to read the winning essays in our 2018 and 2019 contests.)
  • Essays may include a title and footnotes, but these elements are not required. Titles and footnotes do not count toward the 500 word limit.
  • Only one essay will be considered per student. If a student submits more than one essay, the most recent submission will be the one that is considered.
  • The deadline to enter the contest is 11:59 PM Pacific Standard Time on Saturday, April 18, 2020. Late entries will not be accepted unless the delay was caused by a malfunction of the Americans Against Gun Violence online entry system.

 Selection of Scholarship Winners

  • Twelve contest winners will be selected from the essays submitted.
  • The Americans Against Gun Violence Board of Directors will establish a panel of members to judge essays based on accuracy, originality, clarity, cohesiveness, and overall impact.
  • Essay readers will be blinded to all student identifying information.
  • Contest winners will be notified by email by Monday, May 18, 2020
  • At the time that students are notified that they’ve been chosen as contest winners, they’ll also be sent a signature form that includes the following elements:
    • A statement that the essay submitted by the student is his or her original work
    • A statement signed by a parent or legal guardian if the student is under age 18 confirming that the parent or guardian approves of the student’s participation in the essay contest
    • A statement by a school official confirming that the contestant is a high school student in good standing or that the student entered high school on track to graduate in 2020 or later but graduated early
  • In order to receive a monetary award, the 12 contest winners must return the signed signature form within 30 days of being notified that they are contest winners.
  • Students don’t need to submit the signature form at the time that they enter the contest. If their school will be out of session before May 18, 2020, though, it’s recommended that contestants get the signature of a school official documenting that they are high school students in good standing prior to the end of the 2019-2020 academic school year. The blank signature form can be downloaded by clicking on this link.

Contest Awards (Total $15,000)

  • Upon submission of their completed signature forms, the first place winner will be sent a check for a $3,000 award; second place a $2,500 award; and third place a $2,000 scholarship.
  • The fourth through tenth ranked winners will each receive $1,000 awards, and the 11th and 12th ranked winners will receive $250 apiece.
  • If one or more of the twelve winners does not submit a completed signature form within 30 days of being notified that he or she is a contest winner, the lower ranked finalists and alternate finalists who have submitted their signature forms will be moved up in ranking, and the total $15,000 in awards will be distributed accordingly.
  • Awards will be sent by check to the home address listed on the students’ entry forms.

Publication of Essays and Release of Contact and Identifying

  • By entering the contest, students agree to allow Americans Against Gun Violence to publish their essays in part or in whole in any way that the Board of Directors deems to be appropriate, but without any student contact or identifying information linked to the essays.
  • Americans Against Gun Violence will not publish or release any student contact or identifying information without the written consent of the student and, if the student is under age 18, the written consent of a parent or guardian.
  • When the 12 contest winners are notified that they have been chosen as winners, they will be provided with release forms to indicate to what degree, if any, they wish to have their contact and identifying information released in association with their essays.
  • The responses to the release forms will not in any way influence the ranking of the contest winners.

Summary of Essay Contest Timeline

  • The deadline for entering the contest is 11:59 PM PST on Saturday, April 18, 2020.
  • The students selected as the 12 contest winners will be notified by Monday, May 18, 2020.
  • Students chosen as contest winners must return completed signature forms within 30 days of being notified that they have been chosen as winners in order to receive monetary awards.
  • Award checks will be mailed to the winners upon receipt of their completed signature forms.


Click on this link for a downloadable essay contest flyer in PDF format. For additional information or questions, please email or call us at (916) 668-4160.