The die-in on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. on June 12, 2018. (Photo by Haley Samsel for Youth Radio)
Even as schools and colleges have let out for the summer, the dialogue on school shootings and gun reform isn’t going away.
Just three weeks after the most recent school shooting, and less than a month since the shooting at Santa Fe High School, student activists aren’t slowing down in their pursuit of gun control. In fact, many are ramping up, preparing for November’s midterm elections.
Adult-led groups have been fighting gun violence for years. Since the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre, the spotlight is on student effort.
Here are the six major student-led organizations fighting to end gun violence in America.
1. March For Our Lives
Who they are: One of the first and most well-known of all of the recent movements, March for our Lives was founded by the survivors of the Parkland, Fla. shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Hosting the historic March for Our Lives rally in Washington, D.C. cemented the faces of its founders, like Emma Gonzales and David Hogg, as icons in the student-driven fight for gun reform.
Their focus: The org already has an impressive list of policy agendas that include items like universal background checks and high-capacity magazine bans. They also touch on the importance of addressing the roles domestic abuse and mental health play in gun violence. Using a number of tactics for organizing including rallies, marches, petitions, voter registration drives and social media campaigns, the organization has become a model for other student activists looking to engage on the issue. And they held an enormous march event on March 24 in Washington, D.C. and across the country and world.
How can you get involved: The Road to Change summer tour, their new effort, kicks off along Midwestern and Southern states this week. Students can join in on the rallies along the way in addition to registering others to vote, and starting local action clubs using their toolkits.
2. Students Demand Action
Who they are: As the first group to publicly form after the Parkland shooting — just two days after — Students Demand Action emerged as a gun safety advocacy group for and by students through the existing Everytown for Gun Safety organization.
Their focus: The campaign aims to provide resources for students to create local chapters that organize around gun legislation. Through starting student demands groups, creating a database to monitor NRA funding to local congressmembers and organizing voter registration drives, the group is cultivating student leaders to work within their home communities and schools on gun reform.
How can you get involved: Students can join their Instagram and text message campaigns to get the word out to other youth, and create their own student demand groups using the organization’s resources.
3. Team Enough
Who they are: Team Enough was also catalyzed into action after the Parkland shooting. Launched May 22, 2018, the group is a division of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. But Team Enough wants to show the diverse face of gun violence in America that plagues communities of color at disproportionate rates. The coalition has organized a superstar squad of outspoken activists on gun control, including Parkland survivor Aalayah Eastmond, March for Our Lives speaker Matt Post, Youth Over Guns founder Ramon Contreras and Women’s March youth organizer Kaleab Jego.
Their focus: The new group’s first matter of business is mobilizing young people to the polls in November in order to elect candidates that will advance its three main priorities: universal background checks for gun sales, a ban on assault weapons and the implementation of “extreme risk” laws to remove firearms from those identified as potentially dangerous. Above all, they aim to elevate the voices of marginalized groups and people of color into the mainstream dialogue on gun action.
4. Orange Generation
Who they are: While most of the other groups on the list formed in response to Parkland, Orange Generation is the newest group to emerge, as it launched in the aftermath of the shooting at Santa Fe High School that killed 10 in May. Survivors quickly formed Orange Generation — orange being the official color of the anti-gun violence movement in America — representing a generation of students that have grown up seeing gun violence in their schools and communities.
Their focus: The group has a few unique goals. In addition to supporting common-sense gun reform, CDC research on gun violence and mental health reform, their website states that they aim to provide rehab services like counselors and PTSD clinics for recovering survivors of gun violence, and financial support to families of people injured in mass shootings.
Who they are: Not to be confused with studentmarch.org, the 2015 rally for tuition reform, StudentsMarch.org (with an “s”) first formed by organizing the March for Our Lives in Dallas. The high school students used the march as a launching point for more sustained activism in Dallas and beyond. When the NRA hosted its national convention in Dallas just two months later, the organization jumped back into action by holding a march with students across the country to focus on cultivating student advocacy.
Their focus: This month, the group launched its first individual campaign. Named #WeAreThe97, the goal of the 97-day campaign leading up to November elections is to identify the elected officials that stand with the 97% of Americans that support universal background checks on firearms (and those that don’t).
How you can get involved: StudentsMarch is encouraging other students to contact their officials and urge them to support universal background checks before Sept. 7 when the org will release a list of elected officials who support and oppose the issue, heading into the Nov. 6 elections.
6. Youth Over Guns
Who they are: Youth Over Guns was created in March after students across the country walked out of class for 17 minutes to honor the 17 victims of the Parkland shooting. Founder Ramon Contreras, a 19-year-old New York City student, told local media he felt that there was not enough of a focus on how gun violence impacts communities of color. Youth Over Guns launched their first action on June 2 when they held a march across the Brooklyn Bridge that drew thousands of participants, as well as a smaller sibling march across the Golden Gate Bridge.
Their focus: Youth Over Guns is vocal that they are marching for more than just awareness. With a specific aim at ending gun violence in communities of color, they are calling for legislators, stakeholders and volunteers to invest money and resources into local efforts for preventing gun violence. They also work to dismantle the underlying issues — like the school to prison pipeline and lack of quality education — that lead to gun violence rather than just the effects.
How you can get involved: The group is active in New York and holds regular actions in the area.
7. National Die-In
Who they are: The National Die-In movement was co-founded Orlando natives Amanda Fugleberg and Frank Kravchuk, along with Nurah Abdulhaqq. Fugleberg and Kravchuk got involved in the movement against gun violence after the Pulse nightclub massacre not far from where they’d both grown up. The student activist group held a rally and die-in on Capitol Hill on June 12.
Their focus: Their website says, “We aim to commemorate the 49 innocent lives lost in the Pulse Nightclub Massacre on June 12, 2016, and every life lost to gun violence before and after this tragic event. We also demand that in response to our protest common sense gun control finally be passed.”
How you can get involved: At the time of this writing, the organization doesn’t have any upcoming events planned.