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Why First-Time Voters and Youth Gun Safety Advocates Are Mobilizing Ahead of the Midterms to Secure a Safer Future

The only world we’ve ever known is one marked by gun violence. We were kids when the shooting at Sandy Hook happened, teenagers during the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas. And we were getting ready to start our first and second years at college when mass shootings rocked Buffalo, Uvalde, and Highland Park this year.

Our generation has grown up living in fear of gun violence—not just mass shootings, but acts of gun violence in our communities every single day. And even worse, we’ve had to learn how to navigate a system designed to fail us—being forced to normalize hiding under desks at school, staying quiet and out of sight during active shooter drills, practicing how to stay alive when the shooting starts. We’ve watched tragedy after tragedy unfold and wondered if we might be next.


Approximately three million American children witness gun violence every year.

Everytown Research analysis of Finkelhor et al., “Prevalence of Childhood Exposure to Violence, Crime, and Abuse: Results From the National Survey of Children’s Exposure to Violence,” JAMA Pediatrics 169, no. 8 (2015): 746–54,

For too long, that’s the way it’s gone. Gunfire breaks out, lives are stolen or permanently altered. Lawmakers offer us their thoughts and prayers then turn a blind eye. We’ve spent our childhoods watching the world around us accept this reality as inevitable and unchangeable. But we refuse to accept that.

We refuse to accept a reality where shots can ring out anywhere, at any time. We refuse to accept that our lives and the lives of future generations will be forever impacted by this endless cycle of grief and inaction. We refuse to believe that there is nothing we can do to stop this epidemic of violence.

So we decided to act, to take matters into our own hands. We’ve been organizing and mobilizing to demand a future free from gun violence. We’ve educated our communities about the critical importance of gun safety. We’ve created networks of support to connect with one another. We’ve advocated for change on the local, state, and federal levels. And it’s working—things are changing.

This summer, young activists like us stood alongside other gun safety advocates and gun violence survivors to tell lawmakers that we wouldn’t stand for any more inaction on gun safety. We helped pass the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act—the first meaningful federal progress on gun safety in nearly three decades, and the first in our lifetimes. On top of this historic victory, we’ve also helped pass common-sense gun safety measures in statehouses and school boards across the country—that’s proof that our advocacy works.

“There is so much on the line this year. Around the country, we’ve seen candidates embrace extreme gun policies, push conspiracy theories, and support hate-fueled ideology—all of which threatens the safety of our communities.”

But there is still more that needs to be done. Weak gun laws continue to impact states across the country on a daily basis, and now, guns are the number one killer of children and teens in America. Every year, more than 3,500 children and teens are shot and killed in the United States, and 15,000 more are shot and wounded. This is a public health crisis, and to end it, we need policymakers who will listen to us.

That’s why this November, we’re taking our advocacy to the polls and voting in our first major elections. We’re excited to be among the wave of young people who will be using our voices and our votes to support policymakers that take this crisis seriously—and to hold those that don’t accountable.

There is so much on the line this year. Around the country, we’ve seen candidates embrace extreme gun policies, push conspiracy theories, and support hate-fueled ideology—all of which threatens the safety of our communities. In swing states like Pennsylvania and Georgia, we know the risk of letting those extreme candidates win. That’s why in recent election cycles, Students Demand Action volunteers have mobilized to demand action and accountability from our leaders, and that’s why this year we’re working hard ahead of the midterms to make sure every voter knows what their candidates stand for.

There’s too much at stake to sit on the sidelines. This November, we must turn out the vote to tell these extremists that we won’t let them write our gun laws, and we won’t let them write our futures. We deserve more, and this November, we’ll demand it at the ballot box.

Our future is at stake, and we are showing up to take it back.

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