With so many school shootings happening lately and right around graduation time, it must be so hard to celebrate the next chapter in life when others are either dead or mourning the death of a loved one.
Two recent school shootings, which occurred within a week of each other, proved to be particularly emotional for the country after it was revealed two students from the different events felt as if they had to step in and stop the shooter. Both students ultimately were murdered because of their bravery.
A high school graduate honored shooting victims by having their names displayed through a QR code on her cap.
Gina Warren used her graduate cap as an opportunity to inform guests about school shooting victims that didn’t get the chance to walk on stage and get their diploma.
The 18-year-old teen from Ohio put the names of high school students who died beginning from the shooting at Columbine in 1999 up to last week’s shooting in Colorado that had Kendrick Castillo as the latest victim.
Since there are so many high school victims, Warren used a QR code so people could scan it and read the list in its entirety.
“I wanted to make something just as powerful as a statement, but rather than direct it to lawmakers or the NRA, I wanted to direct it to everyone who will see it,” Warren told BuzzFeed News.
She added that she didn’t include high school victims that were shot in movie theaters or at church. There are just too many victims to include.
She said her cap isn’t meant to be political but more so a statement on our country’s major gun issues.
“I hope anyone who sees how many names there are would think there is a problem,” she told the news site. “I’m not telling you how you should vote or what you should think — I’m telling you there’s a problem,” Warren said. “Whatever you think could make our country safer, you need to have a voice about it.”
One person is dead and at least three others are injured, two of them critically, after a shooting at a Southern California high school Thursday morning, officials said.
The shooting began at before 8 a.m. before classes had started, while many students were on their way to the school.
The shooting began before classes started, with authorities starting to get calls about shots fired at 7:38 a.m., Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said.
Adam Eichensehr, another sophomore, told ABC7 he received a text from his friends telling him not to go to school because they heard gunshots.
“At first I didn’t believe it. … then I saw cops, and so I stopped and I called my mom and she told me to come straight home,” he said. “All my friends I’ve come in contact with are OK for now.”
Police had tweeted out a warning to the community before they had located the suspect.
The Santa Clarita Valley sheriff’s office tweeted just before 8 a.m. local time to avoid the area of Saugus High School, which is in the county of Los Angeles, about 40 miles north of the city of Los Angeles. Minutes later, the office said people were reporting that shots had been fired at the school.
“This is an active shooter situation,” a tweet from the Santa Clarita Valley sheriff’s office said before the suspect was located. “If you live in neighborhoods anywhere near Saugus High, PLEASE LOCK DOORS and stay inside. If you see suspect, male dark clothing, in backyards, etc. CALL 911.”
“Parents, deputies are on scene everywhere protecting your children,” a tweet from the sheriff’s office said.
So far two victims have died from their wounds and three others remain in the hospital.
Five victims were being transported to Henry Mayo Hospital, which says that three of them — two males and one female — arrived in critical condition. The female patient later died. Another male patient was in good condition and a fifth patient was still en route, according to the hospital.
Terrified students have started sharing their harrowing stories.
Student Sharon Orelana Cordova told NBC Los Angeles that she was doing homework when she saw people running so she started running too. “When I got out, I saw this person lying down on the ground, and I saw blood all over. It was really scary, I was really really scared. I didn’t know what was going on,” she said.
Saugus was placed on lockdown as were neighboring elementary schools and all of the schools in the William S. Hart Union High School District, officials said.
Aerial video showed students with their hands raised, being escorted by deputies away from the school of about 2,300 students, NBC Los Angeles reported. They were transported from the campus on school buses with armed deputies on board.
An area was set up for parents to reunify with students at a park about three miles from the school.
Politicians and celebrities were quick to condemn the violence on social media.
Several of the leading candidates for the 2020 Democratic primary took to Twitter to share their grief but to also make renewed calls for increased gun control.
Bernie Sanders said: “This must end. Children in America should not live in fear for their lives at school or anywhere else. We have a moral obligation to say: children’s lives are more important than gun manufacturers’ profits. We must pass common sense gun safety legislation.”
While California’s Governor Gavin Newsome tweeted at the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel: “how many more lives will be lost? How many more shootings will we have to endure? We need commonsense gun reform. NOW.”
The Santa Clarita shooting marks the 366th mass shooting in the US just this year.
At least 30 shooting attacks on school grounds have occurred in 2019 resulting in deaths or injuries, according to gun safety group Everytown.
At least 11 people have died in fatal shooting attacks this year, according to Everytown’s research.
Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, a non-profit founded in 2006, tracks incidents of gun violence across the United States. Included in its count of gun violence on schools are any incident in which a live round is fired inside or into a school building or on a school’s campus.
The group says there have been a total of 84 incidents of gunfire on school grounds in 2019. There were 104 in 2018.
Of the incidents this year, 10 fatal incidents, including Thursday’s, involved attacks on others. There were other shootings that caused injury or death that involved those that died by suicide, a round that accidentally went off, attacks not targeting students or domestic incidents
We’ve come to the point in American history where deaths due to gun violence have become what many would call a crisis. According to data collected by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2017, guns were responsible for more deaths than car accidents were. So it comes to no surprise when certain activists take it upon themselves to bring attention to what many label an epidemic. On Wednesday, the Sandy Hook Promise Foundation, a non-profit organization founded with the goal of “protecting children from gun violence with programs that work”, did just that. The NPO released a short video, titled “Back-To-School-Essentials” that made waves through the internet.
The video begins exactly the way so many back-to-school commercials start: discussing the coolest new gadgets to buy for your kids this Fall.
A smiling boy pulls a backpack out of a locker, bragging that his mom got him the “perfect bag for back to school”. A young girl shows off the colorful binders that are “just what she needs to help her stay organized” for the school year. But things take an odd turn with the third student. As the student describes his headphones as “just what [he] needs for studying”, we can see that not all is quite right in the background. As the boy listens to his music, oblivious, we see students running in the behind him, appearing to be panicked.
As the commercial wears on, it becomes even eerier when students are speaking carefree to the camera while scenes of carnage unfold around them. The commercial wears on with each scenario becoming eerier: a girl uses her sweater to bar a door shut, keeping an active shooter out of the gymnasium. A different student uses her new socks as a tourniquet to keep a bleeding student alive. The video ends on a chilling note: a young girl hides in a bathroom stall, tears running down her face. The camera closes up on her as we hear an active shooter enter the bathroom. “I love you, Mom,” she types into her phone.
The video ends with a simple title-card over a black screen: “School shooting is preventable when you know the signs.”
The PSA then directs the viewer to find out more about the organization at sandyhookpromise.org. According to Sandy Hook Promise’s About page, the “above-the-politics” organization is made up of “several family members whose loved ones were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012”. Their mission is to “honor all victims of gun violence by turning our tragedy into a moment of transformation”. Their main action-items are to target mental health programs to individuals who are “at-risk” at engaging in gun violence and by advocating for policy changes in order to prevent school shootings.
As of now, the video has racked up over 1 million views on YouTube in under 24 hours.
The virality of the PSA is likely due to its execution: we’re all used to seeing vacuous back-to-school commercials whose sole intentions are to sell us something. “Back-To-School Essentials” lulls us into a sense of comfort with its upbeat music before jerking us into the current violent reality of school-aged students’ lives. According to the Gun Violence Archive, which tracks every mass shooting in the country, the US has had 283 mass shootings since September 1st of 2019.
The video isn’t without controversy–some Twitter users are disturbed by how close to home the video’s scenarios are.
In fact, many viewers are finding the PSA hard to watch. On Twitter, users are complaining of tearing up after watching the video. Some even claim to “feeling sick” by the video’s contents.
In response, some Twitter users are glad of the reality-check the PSA is providing:
It’s evident that making their audience uncomfortable from watching the video was one of the organization’s goals. That way, it makes it harder to ignore the reality of school shootings and their impact on children’s lives.
This woman explained how the video hit a little too close to home:
It seems we’ve come to the point in our culture where we feel we need to buy phones for our children in the event that they experience a school shooting.
This Twitter user applauded the Sandy Hook Promise Organization’s bravery in committing to their message:
Sometimes the only way to get your point across is to explain, in the starkest terms possible, how dire the situation is. This video managed to convey that in a powerful way.
This Latina was effected by the PSA on a visceral level:
Reactions like this prove that public service announcements, when done right, can achieve exactly what they set out to achieve.
Simply from the Twitter reaction, it’s clear that this video has touched a lot of people.
To learn more about Sandy Hook Promise and its mission to prevent gun violence, visit www.sandyhookpromise.org.