October 7, 2022 Blog

A Student’s Perspective on Going Back to School (Shootings)

I am writing this article at the beginning of the 2022 school year. Youth are returning after a year where many of us feared for our lives because of both insufficient Covid-19 safety procedures and the threat of school gun violence mirrored throughout the entire country. 

Just a few weeks ago, the Alliance for Gun Responsibility held its first ever Youth Summit that connected young people to education and elected leaders. Speakers and attendees alike spoke to their experiences with gun violence in their communities. Chetan, the fellow at the Alliance who spearheaded the event, recalled sitting in his 7th grade math class when his school declared a code red: there was a school shooter. What was clear from the daylong summit was the substantial presence of gun violence in young people’s lives, inside and outside of educational institutions. 

Gun violence is the leading cause of death for children and teens between the ages of 0 to 19 in the United States. Many of these deaths occur in homes and not in schools or mass shootings. In Washington state, 50 percent of youth firearm deaths were suicides in 2019. And although gun violence affects youth in general, it impacts Black youth and youth with disabilities the most. In 2020, Black males between 15 to 34-years-old were over 20 times more likely to die by gun homicides than white males of the same age range. And people with any disability are 2.5 times more likely to be the victims of any crime than those without disabilities, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics

For Chetan, his experience with gun violence inspired him to act, saying, “I made it my goal, as stupid as it sounded at the time, that no one was going to have to endure the same thing as I did.” 

To all the students heading back to the classroom, you are not alone in how you feel. This is why we need to pass commonsense gun laws, especially as youth growing up with gun violence.

– Jackie Le is an Intern at the Alliance for Gun Responsibility