High profile shootings in the USA……
Octiber 25, 2021, Boise, Idaho shopping mall: Two people killed, 4 injured…
October 17, 2021, Grambling State University, Grambling, Louisiana: One person killed, 7 wounded (one critically) at homecoming event…
October 15, 2021, Mobile, Alabama high school football game: 4 people wounded, one critically…
October 6, 2021, Timberview High School, Arlington, Texas: Two people wounded, including 15 year old student critically injured and 25 year old teacher with less serious gunshot wound, by 18 year old student…
June 26, 2021, Winthrop, Massachusetts: 53 year old African American man and 60 year old African American woman killed by white supremacist…
Miami-Dade rap concert, May 30, 2021: 2 people killed, 20 wounded…
Light rail maintenance facility, San Jose, California, May 26, 2021: 9 people killed by disgruntled employee…
FedEx warehouse, Indianapolis, Indiana, April 15, 2021: 8 people killed, 7 wounded…
Bryan, Texas, April 8, 2021: 1 person killed, 6 people wounded, including responding police officer, by disgruntled cabinet shop employee…
Rock Hill, South Carolina, April 7, 2021: Five people killed, including emergency physician, his wife, and two grandchildren, ages 5 and 9; 1 person seriously wounded…
Orange, California, March 31, 2021: Four people killed, including a 9 year old boy, one person critically wounded…
Boulder, Colorado supermarket, March 22, 2021: 10 people killed, including first responding police officer…
Atlanta-area spas, Georgia, March 16, 2021: 8 people killed, including 6 Asian-American women, 1 wounded…
Atlanta, Georgia, November 6, 2020: 3 people killed, including rapper, King Von; 3 others wounded…
Chicago, Illinois, July 21, 2020: 15 mourners wounded outside funeral home in drive by shooting…
Springfield, Missouri, March 16, 2020: 5 people killed in shooting spree beginning at gas station…
Molson Coors Brewery, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, February 26, 2020: 5 people killed by coworker who then shot and killed himself…
Jersey City, New Jersey, December 10, 2019: 4 people, including a police officer, killed, 3 other people, including 2 officers and a civilian, wounded in suspected anti-semitic hate crime…
Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Florida, December 6, 2019: 3 trainees killed, 8 other people, including 2 police officers injured…
December 4, 2019, Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard, Hawaii: 2 civilians killed, 1 wounded by on duty sailor…
Fresno, California, November 17, 2019: 4 people killed, 6 wounded at backyard party…
Saugus High School, Santa Clarita, California, November 14, 2019: 2 students killed, 3 wounded by 16 year old student who shot himself immediately afterward and later died…
Long Beach, California, October 29, 2019: 3 people killed, 9 wounded…
Elkmont, Alabama, September 2, 2019: Father, step-mother, 6 year-old step-brother, 5 year old step-sister, and 6 month old step-brother shot and killed by 14 year-old boy…
Midland and Odessa Texas, August 31, 2019: 7 people killed, 24 wounded…
Dayton, Ohio, August 4, 2019: 9 people killed, 27 injured…
El Paso Texas, August 3, 2019: 22 people killed, at least 24 other injured…
Gilroy, California, July 28, 2019: 3 people killed, 13 injured…
Municipal Center, Virginia Beach, Virginia, May 31, 2019: 12 people killed, 4 wounded…
STEM Charter School, Highlands Ranch, Colorado, May 7, 2019: 1 student killed, 8 students wounded…
University of North Carolina, Charlotte, April 30, 2019: 2 students killed, 4 students wounded…
Baltimore, Maryland neighborhood cookout, April 29, 2019: 1 person killed, at least 7 people wounded…
April 27, 2019, Chabad Synagogue, Poway, California: 1 woman killed, 3 people, including 8 year old girl, wounded…
February 15, 2019, Henry Pratt Manufacturing Plant, Aurora, Illinois: 5 employees killed, 5 police officers wounded…
January 26, 2019, near Baton Rouge, Louisiana: 5 people killed, including gunman’s girlfriend, girlfriend’s father and brother, and gunman’s parents…
January 23, 2019, SunTrust Bank, Sebring, Florida: 5 women killed…
January 10, 2019, Davis, California: 22 year old female police officer ambushed and killed during her first month on the job while investigating minor traffic accident…
Chicago Mercy Hospital, November 20, 2018: Emergency physician, pharmacy resident, and police officer killed by physician’s ex-boyfriend…
Thousand Oaks, California, November 7, 2018: 12 people killed, 22 injured…
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, October 27, 2018: 11 people killed, 6 wounded at Jewish synagogue by anti-Semitic gunman…
Bakersfield, California, September 13, 2018: 5 people killed, including shooter’s ex-wife…
Cincinnati, Ohio, Fountain Square Office Building, September 6, 2018: 3 people killed, 2 wounded…
Jacksonville, Florida Video Football Gaming Tournament, August 26, 2018: 2 people killed, 9 wounded…
Capital Gazette newspaper, Annapolis, Maryland, June 28, 2018: 5 people killed, including editor, 3 journalists, and another staff member…
Santa Fe High School, Santa Fe, Texas, May 18, 2018: 8 students and 2 teachers killed, 13 wounded…
Nashville, Tennessee, April 22, 2018: 4 people killed, 2 wounded…
Pathway Home for Veterans with PTSD, Yountville, California, March 9, 2018: 3 female staff killed by former client…
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, February 14, 2018: 14 students and 3 staff killed, 17 wounded by former student…
Marshall County High School, Benton, Kentucky, January 23, 2018: 2 students killed, 14 wounded by 15 year old male student…
Since 1968, more U.S. civilians have been killed by guns than all the U.S. soldiers killed by any means in all the wars in which the United States has ever been involved…
On an average day in 2017, 109 people were killed by guns in the United States, and at least 2-3 times this many people suffered non-fatal gunshot wounds…
In 2017, a total of 39,773 people were killed by guns in the United States, and at least 2-3 times this many people suffered non-fatal gunshot wounds…
Highlands Ranch, Colorado, December 31, 2017: 1 police officer killed, 4 other officers and 2 civilians wounded…
Tehama County, California, November 14, 2017: 5 people killed, 12 wounded, including 6 children…
Sutherland Springs, Texas, November 5, 2017: 26 people killed, 20 wounded…
Las Vegas, Nevada, October 1, 2017: 58 people killed, 422 wounded…
Freeman High School, Rockford, Washington, September 13, 2017: 1 student killed, 3 students wounded…
New York City Bronx-Lebanon Hospital, June 30, 2017: 1 person killed, 5 wounded…
Little Rock, Arkansas, June 30, 2017: 25 people wounded…
Alexandria, Virginia baseball field, June 14, 2017: 4 people wounded…
San Francisco UPS warehouse, June 14, 2017: 3 people killed, 2 wounded…
Hollywood/Fort Lauderdale Airport, Florida, January 6, 2017: 5 people killed, 6 wounded…
Since 1968, more U.S. civilians have been killed by guns than all the U.S. soldiers killed by any means in all the wars in which the United States has ever been involved….
On an average day in 2016, 106 people were killed by guns in the United States of America, and approximately, 232 suffered non-fatal gunshot wounds….
In 2016, a total of 38, 658 people were killed by guns in the United States of America….
Since 1968, more U.S. civilians have been killed by guns than all the U.S. soldiers killed in all the wars in which the United States has ever been involved…
Townville, South Carolina, September 28, 2016: 2 people killed, including shooter’s father and 6 year boy, 2 others wounded by 14 year old boy…
Burlington, Washington, September 28, 2016: 5 people killed at department store makeup counter…
Fort Myers, Florida, July 25, 2016, 2 people killed: 17 wounded…
Sniper Attacks, Dallas, Texas, July 7, 2016: 5 people killed, 7 wounded…
Pulse Nightclub, Orlando, Florida, June 12, 2016: 49 people killed, 58 wounded…
Excel Industries, Hesston, Kansas, February 25, 2016, 3 people killed, 14 wounded…
Kalamazoo, Michigan, February 20, 2016, 6 killed, 2 people wounded…
On an average day in the United States in 2015, 99 people killed by guns, 232 wounded….
Since 1968, more U.S. civilians have been killed by guns than all the U.S. soldiers killed in all the wars in which the United States has ever been involved…
Inland Regional Center, San Bernardino, California, December 2, 2015, 14 people killed, 21 wounded…
Planned Parenthood, Colorado Springs, November 27, 2015, 3 people killed, 9 wounded…
Umpqua Community College, Roseburg, Oregon, October 1, 2015, 9 people killed, 9 wounded…
Marine Corps Recruitment Center, Chattanooga, Tennessee, July 16, 2015, 5 people killed, 2 wounded…
Emanuel AME Church, Charleston, South Carolina, June 17, 2015, 9 people killed, 1 wounded…
On an average day in the United States in 2014, 92 people killed by guns, 222 wounded…
Since 1968, more U.S. civilians have been killed by guns than all the U.S. soldiers killed in all the wars in which the United States has ever been involved…
Marysville-Pilchuck High School, Marysville, Washington, October 24, 2014, 5 people killed, 1 wounded…
University of California, Santa Barbara student mass murder, Isla Vista, California, May 23, 2014, 6 people killed, 13 wounded…
Fort Hood, Texas, April 3, 2014, 3 people killed, 12 wounded…
Rancheria Tribal Office and Community Center, Alturas, California, February 20, 2014, 4 people killed, 2 wounded…
On an average day in the United States in 2013, 92 people killed by guns, 231 wounded…
Since 1968, more U.S. civilians have been killed by guns than all the U.S. soldiers killed in all the wars in which the United States has ever been involved…
Washington Navy Yard, Washington D.C., September 16, 2013, 12 killed, 8 wounded…
Hialeah Apartment Building, Hialea, Florida, July 26, 2013, 7 killed…
Santa Monica College, Santa Monica, California, June 7, 2013, 6 killed, 3 wounded…
Pinewood Village Apartment, Federal Way, Washington, April 21, 2013, 5 killed…
On an average day in the United States, 92 killed, over 180 wounded…
In an average year in the United States, over 30,000 killed, over 60,000 wounded…
Sandy Hook Elementary School, Newtown, Connecticut, December 14, 2012, 20 children and 7 adults killed, 2 wounded…
Accent Signage Systems, Minneapolis, Minnesota, September 27, 2012, 7 killed, 1 wounded…
Sikh Temple, Oak Creek, Wisconsin, August 5, 2012, 7 killed, 3 wounded…
Century Movie Theater, Aurora, Colorado, July 20, 2012, 12 killed, 58 wounded…
Café Racer, Seattle, Washington, May 20, 2012, 6 killed, 1 wounded…
Oikos University, Oakland, California, April 2, 2012, 7 killed, 3 wounded…
"Pious condolences will no longer suffice…"
"Quarter measures and half measures will no longer suffice…"
"The time has now come that we must enact stringent gun control legislation…"
"…gun control legislation comparable to the legislation in force in virtually every civilized country in the world."

Senator Thomas Dodd, June 11, 1968

"Pious condolences will no longer suffice…"
"Quarter measures and half measures will no longer suffice…"
"The time has now come that we must enact stringent gun control legislation…"
"…gun control legislation comparable to the legislation in force in virtually every civilized country in the world."

Senator Thomas Dodd, June 11, 1968

Announcing the Winners of our 2021 National High School Essay Contest

Americans Against Gun Violence is pleased to announce the winners of our 2021 National High School Essay Contest. To enter the contest, which was open to all high school students in the United States and its territories, students were required to submit an essay of 500 words or fewer in response to the following prompt:

“Describe the effect on American youth of the confluence of our country’s longstanding gun violence epidemic with the current Covid-19 pandemic and the threat of violent insurrection; and describe what role you believe the adoption of stringent gun control laws should play at this critical time in our nation’s history.”

We received essay submissions from students across the country. The winners were chosen via a rigorous process in which more than 20 Americans Against Gun Violence members participated, reading and rating essays blinded to any student identifying information. In the essay contest instructions, we announced that we would be awarding a total of at least $15,000 to twelve winners, with the option of providing additional awards, as we have done the past two years, if we received more than 12 outstanding essays. Again this year, our readers felt there were indeed more than 12 outstanding essays, and we are therefore awarding a total of $15,900 to 21 winners. The winning essays in this year's contest come from students attending high school in the states of California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Texas.

While we are pleased to announce the winners of this year's essay contest, we are deeply troubled by the students' descriptions of the devastating effect on American youth of the confluence of the ongoing epidemic of gun violence, the Covid-19 pandemic, and the threat of violent insurrection; and by the sense of betrayal that many students expressed concerning the fact that older generations have not taken the same kind of dramatic action to end the gun violence epidemic - an epidemic that is uniquely American and that disproportionately affects our children and our youth - as they have taken to address Covid-19 - a pandemic that is worldwide and that disproportionately affects older adults. We are also troubled by the fact that again this year, many students have not felt safe in having their names or the names of their high schools published in association with their essays. It is part of our mission at Americans Against Gun Violence to not only ensure that we address our country's longstanding gun violence epidemic with at least as much urgency and resolve as we have addressed the Covid-19 pandemic, but that we also  change the toxic culture in our country that makes students fear for their safety if they speak openly and frankly about the need to take definitive action to protect our children and our youth from the threat of gun violence.

The winners of our 2021 Americans Against Gun Violence National High School Essay Contest are:

 

First Place Winner

$3,000 Award

Sabrina Brandeis

Monte Vista High School, Danville, California

Weapons of Self-Destruction

...When COVID-19 lockdowns forced schools to close, kids were separated from their friends, creating feelings of isolation, anxiety, and frustration. As a result, during the same period that Americans bought guns in record numbers, 1 in 4 young adults reported suicidal ideation, overwhelming mental health crisis centers. Lonely and depressed children with access to firearms are a deadly combination, especially since guns are the most lethal way to commit suicide....As lockdowns abate, sensational firearm massacres have once again become front-page news, but the silent suffering of millions of youths has gone unrecognized. Unless we enact strict gun-control laws to limit access to firearms, it is inevitable that more incidents like [the fatal shootings described in this essay] will occur. Now is the time to act, before we condemn America’s youth to another decade of gun tragedies. (Read the full essay)

 

Second Place Winner

$2,500 Award

Jack Guan

George Washington High School, San Francisco, California

Untitled

Sandy Hook was supposed to be the crisis that set this country on the track to take tangible, concrete action to address the epidemic of gun violence that takes so many lives each year....Even after 20 first graders were massacred at Sandy Hook elementary school, though, Congress failed to take any action to prevent similar tragedies from recurring in the future....More than a decade [later], it's long past time for our government to replace thoughts and prayers with meaningful action to prove that the United States is a country that loves its children more than its guns. (Read the full essay)

 

Third Place Winner

$2,000 Award

(Student's Name and High School Withheld at Student's Request)

Bayside, New York

Untitled

...On January 6th, 2021, a mob stormed down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol as the Electoral College vote count was underway in Congress....As rioters clashed violently with police and broke into the building, members of Congress were evacuated from their chambers. Many congressional staff members, though, legitimately fearing for their lives, had to seek shelter on their own. In a cruel twist of irony, the young staffers knew exactly what had to be done, as they had been preparing for school shootings during their time as students. Their preparedness was a testament to how broken America's relationship with gun violence really is. Rather than enacting stringent gun control laws to address the longstanding gun violence epidemic wrecking the country, the staffers' bosses - our elected members of Congress - had opted instead to subject students to routine "lockdown drills," instilling fear in students of getting shot in a place where they should feel most safe and secure; leaving children and youth to hope that a mass shooting would never actually happen in their school, but to realize that if it did, it was up to them to protect themselves from becoming one of the victims when it should have been the responsibility of older generations to prevent such horrific events from ever occurring in the first place....(Read the full essay)

 

$1,000 Award Winner

Finn Jacobson

Rex Putnam High School

Milwaukie, Oregon

Running Laps

Every morning, I get up at 6:00am and run laps around my high school track. Its a chance to clear my mind, and to reflect, prepare to focus, and watch the sun rise over that place I’ve always yearned to call home, to feel safe in. But I just can’t....When the sun rises over the United States of America, she sees us all running laps – living in an endless cycle of despair and strife, unable to escape the threat of gun violence. When the sun rises over all the other economically advanced democratic countries of the world, she sees governments that have taken definitive action to protect their citizens from the threat of gun violence. U.S. legislators have the power to adopt stringent gun control laws in the United States comparable to the laws in other democratic countries - laws that will finally bring us to the finish line. It is long past time that our elected leaders use this power to end our country's vicious cycle of gun violence. (Read the full essay)

 

$1,000 Award Winner

Jenna Pimenta

Saint Francis High School

Sacramento, California

Untitled

On the first day of Honors Biology, my teacher went over the active shooter lockdown procedure; calm was key. We would lock the doors, close the blinds, and slide underneath the tables on the side of the room nearest to the windows. We would turn off our phones. We would be quiet. And we would wait. As twenty other freshmen and I eyed the dirty tile floor by the window, I thought about how this whole thing was absolutely absurd to someone from any other country but the United States. All because here, people want easy access to firearms more than they want kids to stop getting gunned down in school. (Read the full essay)

 

$1,000 Award Winner

(Student's Name Withheld at Student's Request)

Cosumnes Oaks High School, Elk Grove, California

Sikhs in America: A Unique Perspective on the Gun Violence Epidemic

In the same week that I celebrated turning eighteen and being fully vaccinated, I was forced to grapple with news that Sikhs working in an Indianapolis FedEx store, some of whom had just immigrated from India and were collecting their first paycheck in America, were gunned down and murdered....While watching the news from Indianapolis, it was impossible to avoid reliving August 5, 2012, when a gunman opened fire on the Wisconsin Sikh Temple that my grandparents attended. They were minutes from entering the Temple when eleven members of the congregation were shot, with seven losing their lives....I am going to college in the Fall and I find myself considering the risk of being shot on campus and how to keep myself safe. High school graduates should not be watching college campus videos thinking, "Where am I least likely to be shot...." Stringent gun control laws are long overdue, and it is abhorrent that many lawmakers in Congress put the safety of the people behind demands of special interest groups like the NRA. (Read the full essay)

 

$1,000 Award Winner

(Student's Name Withheld at Student's Request)

Aragon High School, San Mateo, California

America Reaps the Whirlwind

A confluence of events this past year shook the foundations of American democracy, leaving young people to wonder what kind of a world they will inherit. A global pandemic took center stage when 2020 debuted, stealing headlines from an entrenched foe: gun violence. As 2021 dawned, insurrectionists tried to topple the government of the United States in an attempted coup. It was the perfect storm....Sometimes, crises arouse the best in Americans. This past year, as freedom trumped common sense, they exposed the worst.

 

$1,000 Award Winner

(Student's Name and High School Withheld at Student's Request)

When I Say Now, I Mean Now

I am the daughter of immigrants. I soak up this country like a sponge and I wear it like the whole world is watching. I tell my parents what I learn in school - "government" when I was six and "rhetoric" when I was twelve and "insurrection" at sixteen. Nobody taught me "gun." Nobody taught me "trigger," "open-fire," or "Glock," because we already knew. We have read the news and screamed far too many times....

 

$1,000 Award Winner

(Student's Name and High School at Student's Request)

Gun Control: The Most Important Kind of Child-Proofing

In the past year, people across the globe have gotten to know the inside of their houses very well....The sense of familiarity which stems from this consistency leads to an air of security: our home is the place where we feel the safest, and the most at ease....That is why I was so shocked to learn that 4.6 million American children live in homes with an unsupervised gun, and further, that most of those children know where that gun is stored, and some of them have even accessed it without their parents knowing. Obviously enough, the presence of a potentially-lethal firearm in the reach of young children is a recipe for disaster. Studies have demonstrated that it manifestly increases the risk of accidental self-harm. This is made clear by the fact that 8 children are accidentally injured or killed by firearms while in the home every single day. When you throw the pandemic into the mix, these statistics are a recipe for disaster....Homes are meant to be safe, and with proper gun control, politicians can ensure that they are so. Now is when we need it the most.

 

$1,000 Award Winner

(Student's Name and High School at Student's Request)

All It Takes Is One: How Guns Sparked 2020's Explosion

....What do you get when you put millions of guns, massive unemployment, increased anxiety and depression, and a political boiling pot all in the same country at the same time? That was the question we faced in May of last year, and the answer was precisely what one would expect....May 2020 had the highest number of mass shootings since 2013....Many countries, however, have figured out how to prevent sparks from setting off an explosion. For inspiration, we can look to the example of New Zealand. Less than one month after a mass shooting erupted in Christchurch,
the country issued a ban on most semi-automatic weapons. The enactment process was neither lengthy nor difficult, for everyone realized that a prohibition was necessary. Here in America, we have yet to come to that same conclusion....

 

$250 Award Winner

(Student's Name Withheld at Student's Request)

High Tech High, San Diego, California

Our Right to Life

Before the pandemic, my school had an active shooter threat. Right before lunch, our school went on lockdown. As we huddled in the back of our classroom, our teacher began flipping tables over and stuffing cracks with backpacks, creating D-Day like fortifications. In another classroom, a teacher grabbed a pole, ready to spear any potential gunman coming into the class. Our math teacher, just 25 years old, hid behind his doorway with a pair of scissors....Across the country, fear and paranoia have become a cornerstone in our schools. Whenever there's so much as a loud noise our entire class is in fight or flight mode, looking to the exits....The Declaration of Independence reads "Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." How can we even claim to follow those ideals when we deny Americans the right to their own life?...America's past generations have failed us. We're too young to vote but old enough to die....

 

$250 Award Winner

(Student's Name and High School Withheld at Student's Request)

Their Future

As a high school senior, I am heartbroken with each headline of the latest tragedy in our schools, our stores, our businesses, knowing that families are grieving their insurmountable losses. At the same time, I am infuriated with the politicians who pocket money from pro-gun lobbyists and break the unfortunate news to the public: that as legislators, they can't do anything in their legislative power to legislate. Trends are fortunately changing though, slowly but surely....What teens in the United States have realized is that curbside vigils and 'thought and prayers' are poor substitutes for real gun control laws....

 

$100 Award Winner

Ann Alexander

Spring Valley High School, Columbia, South Carolina

The Effects of Gun Violence on the Younger Generation

In March of 2020, schools shut down and transitioned to e-learning because of the Covid-19 pandemic. With students learning from home, the threat of gun violence in schools decreased. When schools opened back up in the fall for face-to-face instruction, the fear that students feel at school returned full force....The older generation has never experienced the threat of school shootings to the extent that students do today. They'll never understand what it's like to walk the halls and wonder where the best hiding place would be. They'll never sit in silence during a drill and think that one day, this could be the real thing. They've never planned out what they would say in a text message to their loved ones, should the threat become a reality. They have never walked out of their home to go to school and thought to themselves, this could be the last time I see my family....The adoption of stringent gun control laws would be the first step in diminishing this fear.

 

$100 Award Winner

Mallory Doyle

St. Joseph High School, Trumbull, Connecticut

A Journey of Hope

As I travel a familiar path from my home to my grandparent's, I pass through Newtown, CT. I see signs painted with stars and words of inspiration - peace, love, hope. Those signs appeared in 2012, days after the Sandy Hook massacre but are now faded and neglected. I went to school that fateful morning, a couple of towns over, unaware of the violence that would later haunt me....

 

$100 Award Winner

Benjamin Teplitz

Susquehanna Township High School, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Untitled

Growing up in a country where high schoolers need to practice where to hide if a murderous gunman infiltrates their school, a country where I was instructed at a young age to push desks against the classroom door to create a barricade from a shooter, a country that taught me to use a stapler as a weapon if someone was trying to kill me and my classmates in school, is terrifying.... Teen suicide rates in the United States have been increasing dramatically....Many believe this number has increased due to the COVID-19 lockdowns and quarantines....Having tighter gun laws would save many of those lives.... Similar to the COVID-19 pandemic, the threat of violent insurrection conflated with our country's gun violence epidemic, has affected American youth....[T]he potential for violent insurrection is frightening to many children, including myself. Especially, when the individuals who are threatening insurrection are those who oppose common-sense gun control legislation....

 

$100 Award Winner

(Student's Name and High School Withheld at Student's Request)

Untitled

Growing up in America, there was never a day where gun violence was not on the news. Every week, I'd wake up to another school shooting; another hate crime; another suicide....Mass shootings are a part of normal American life; how could you turn away from it? Our generation becoming more numb to gun violence....We need to follow in suit of Australia, the UK, and Japan. Stringent gun control will prevent another generation of youth numb to the news of gun violence and another generation practicing lockdown drills in school.

 

$100 Award Winner

(Student's Name and High School Withheld at Student's Request)

Gun Control: A Vaccine for the Epidemic of Gun Violence

Between 1968 and 2011, 1.4 million American lives were claimed by gun violence, a figure almost two and a half times greater than those claimed by the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S.A. Now more than ever, in a time of civil unrest and economic turmoil, it ought to become a top priority to restrict access to lethal firearms....

 

$100 Award Winner

(Student's Name and High School Withheld at Student's Request)

Untitled

The massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012 left 26 people dead, including 20 children. The slaughter, and many others since, should have spurred tougher gun laws. Instead, firearm sales spiked, resulting in more deaths. Gun sales surged again in the wake of COVID-19, the death of George Floyd at the hands of police, and the subsequent Black Lives Matter protests. During a four-month period last year, nearly three million more firearms entered private hands. The attack on the U.S. Capitol earlier this year gave further warrant for tougher laws. Bogus claims that the 2020 presidential election had been stolen so inflamed some conspiracy theorists that they were primed for insurrection. The mob stormed Congress, a riot that left five people dead and desecrated the tabernacle of democracy. Meanwhile, the coronavirus forced students to attend classes virtually, interrupting the trend line of school shootings....The country, however, is slowly returning to normal. The Capitol has been repaired, COVID-19 vaccines are now available, and there have been seven mass shootings within a week. Historically, the nation's immigration policies -- not its full of loopholes gun laws -- have come under close inspection in troubled times. Border security is a distraction. The heavily-armed mob that should be feared is already here -- living next door to us.

 

$100 Award Winner

(Student's Name and High School Withheld at Student's Request)

Untitled

Mass shootings and gun violence as a whole are so ingrained in the fabric of our culture that youth in particular have become unbelievably desensitized to it. While each of these stories evokes incredible emotion and heartache, anything amounting to shock factor has been completely lost. The horrifying reality is that no one is surprised when countless people are murdered at the hands of someone who had access to weapons fit for war. This is even more pertinent when taking into account January 6th's violent insurrection. The culture and overarching attitudes surrounding guns played a large role in the events of that day and will play a large role should something similar happen in the future. With regard to this, all of my peers and I should be astonished and taken aback that this could ever happen in our country--but we are not. We are not because the history and laws in the United States allow for this kind of behavior to both exist and persist. More stringent gun control is absolutely vital to the advancement of our country....

 

$100 Award Winner

(Student's Name and High School Withheld Pending Student's Consent)

Untitled

I am a student, a sister, a woman, and a citizen, as the country slowly begins to reopen, I hold two distinct fears in my heart; one, that my elementary-aged siblings may contract this virus and slowly fade away in front of my eyes, and two, that they will be taken from us as schools reopen and someone decides that they are both judge and jury, and force their last memories to be one of terror and loneliness....As an American youth, and a woman, I have been fearful of guns since the active shooter drills began in Kindergarten. We have failed previous generations in upholding their innocence, but we can be better.

 

$100 Award Winner

(Student's Name and High School Withheld Pending Student's Consent)

A Warm Welcome

My high school experience started with two school shooting alerts and active shooter drills, all in the first week of September. I still remember - school staff members came banging on doors, teachers swiftly killed lights and students seamlessly achieved silence. Planned and tested, as I learned later on, this was the annual norm. Not even a month had passed and I was hastily thrown into a new, vicious reality of being an American teenager....Now, uncompromising firearm regulation is more important than ever before. With gun sales rising by 40% in 2020, it is crucial to limit general weapon accessibility....In the words of activist Greta Thunberg: "We can't save the world by playing by the rules, because the rules have to be changed. Everything needs to change — and it has to start today." I may have been lucky my school experience ended with alerts. But I'm not willing to push that luck, not for me, not for anyone else.