As someone who has grown up in the American school system since 2008, I, and many of my peers, have grown up with school shootings. This is an issue that has had national attention since 2012 and yet I, along with many others, feel nothing tangible has changed in the school system. The never-ending narrative of fear continues along with the constant feelings of disappointment and despair when yet another tragedy happens.
Since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, there have been 189 school shootings (not counting the recent tragedies in 2023). Many of these tragedies are attributed to mental health crises and unchecked gun regulations. However, there has not been increased gun regulation legislation to match. School shootings have become more and more politicized, thanks to increased media coverage. However, organizations such as March For Our Lives dedicate themselves to alleviating this issue.
The March For Our Lives movement started in 2018 following the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The movement describes itself as a “courageous youth-led movement dedicated to promoting civic engagement, education, and direct action by youth to eliminate the epidemic of gun violence.” The ways in which they accomplish these goals are by: registering new voters, increasing election turnout, and organizing walkouts.
While organizing these events, the organization also lobbies for legislation. There are five main areas they focus on. The first one is holding the gun lobby and industry accountable. Specifically, reexamining the District of Columbia v. Heller interpretation of the Second Amendment. The second one is knowing the root causes and responding to them. Essentially, trying to address poverty, the war on drugs, and other socioeconomic issues within the United States. The third one is creating a higher standard of gun ownership. For example, creating a national licensing and registry system that promotes responsible gun ownership. The fourth one is elevating voter voicers. This means focusing more on individual voters instead of corporate interests and influential lobbyists. The fifth and final one is forcing the president to take action. Now that there is a Democrat in the White House, the March For Our Lives movement hopes to take advantage of this to have their concerns listened to.
While it is important to remain aware of what’s going on around you, it is also important to prioritize your mental health. If you consume bad news, on top of more bad news, then it will start to feel like everything is too much. Make sure you take a break, consume some good news, and remain hopeful. It’s also important to remember your voice matters. If you are bothered by the issues happening around you, then make sure you show up to election days (local and national) and vote for the individuals that properly represent you and your wants. While it seems like one individual cannot make a difference, if everyone who thought this way showed up at the polls, things would change. So remember to make your voice heard and to take a break.