The prompt for the 2018 Americans Against Gun Violence National High School Essay Contest was the following statement made by the late Senator Thomas Dodd of Connecticut in a speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate on June 11, 1968:
The time has now come that we must adopt stringent gun control legislation comparable to the legislation in force in virtually every civilized country in the world.
The contest was open to all high school students in the United States and its territories. The deadline for students to enter the contest was May 6, 2018. Winners were chosen by more than 30 Americans Against Gun Violence supporters who read and rated the students’ essays blinded to any student identifying information. Americans Against Gun Violence is awarding a total of $15,000 to the twelve winners. Tax-deductible donations to fund the annual essay contest can be made via the Join/Donate page of this website.
Because of the personal attacks to which some high school gun control activists have been subjected in the aftermath of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in February of this year, we gave essay contest winners the option of withholding their names and high school affiliations when their essays were published. We are pleased to present the winning essays in the 2018 Americans Against Gun Violence National High School Essay Contest below. We regret, however, that as a result of the toxic political culture that currently exists in our country surrounding the gun control issue, several students did not feel safe in having their names and high school affiliations published. It is part of the mission of Americans Against Gun Violence to change this culture.
First Place Winner ($3,000 award)
(Student Name and High School withheld at student’s request)
Gun Control Lessons from Around the World: The Need for Reform in US Policy and Perspective….Over 1,600 mass shootings since Sandy Hook, the United States has still been unable to pass significant gun control laws….Modernized gun reform laws are long overdue in our nation, and it is time for the US to catch up to the contemporary laws of Canada, Britain, Norway, and countless other countries….Read the full essay
Second Place Winner ($2,500 Award)
Placer High School, Auburn, California
The Weight of Firearms….I’m tired of watching the news, seeing sobbing relatives of someone shot to death. I’m tired of knowing that there are thousands more whose sobbing relatives aren’t on television. And I know we are all tired of living with the weight on our shoulders of the millions more who will be killed in our lifetimes….Read the full essay
Third Place Winner ($2,000 Award)
Pioneer High School, Woodland, California
….So this is why we’re walking out. We’re scared, we’re angry, and we want change. ….1,077 people have died in mass shootings since the University of Texas mass shooting in 1966. Legislation hasn’t changed since that fateful day, and now, we’re demanding that it does….Read the full essay
$1,000 Award Winner
(Student Name and High School withheld at students’ request)
And here we are – 650,000 gun related homicides; more than twice that many wounded; 130,000 children and teen lives lost within that 50 year time span