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Students Demand Action

Our Toast to 2023

In 2023, Students Demand Action volunteers met each moment with determination and action. We have now grown to over 780 groups across the country with more active volunteers in 2023 than ever before. 

The gun industry plays a massive role in fueling gun violence, and Students Demand Action led the way in holding gun and ammunition manufacturers accountable in 2023. Gun violence continues to be the leading cause of death for children, teens, and college-aged people in America—but while young people often bear the brunt of this crisis, they’re also leading the fight to end it. Whether it was their first time volunteering or they were leading their school’s chapter, our students are a big reason why our movement is so strong. 

Let’s take a look back at another amazing year with our Toast to 2023.

Students Demand Action continues to grow

In 2023, students demanded meaningful action from legislators, school officials, and the gun industry. 

  • Our text team sent over 400,000 text messages to communicate actions, educate our grassroots base, and welcome new students to the movement.
  • Students organized walkouts at over 500 schools in response to multiple tragic mass shootings. 
  • From petition signatures to contacting lawmakers, we are closing out the year with more than 6,400 volunteer actions and 45,000 digital actions.

Holding the gun industry accountable

We continue to hold the gun industry accountable for its part in the gun violence crisis. And we kicked the year off by confronting the gun industry directly at its annual party: SHOT Show in Las Vegas. 

We laid out a series of comprehensive demands for the firearms industry to adopt responsible business practices—and we brought these demands directly to the industry during the show. As members of the industry arrived in Las Vegas, they were greeted by billboards showing that guns are the number one killer of children and teens, which we placed all along the route from the airport to their hotels. Everytown Support Fund and Students Demand Action ran digital ads targeted to the Las Vegas area and held a demonstration outside of the convention to ensure industry members couldn’t look away from this crisis.

We’re calling out the big players in the industry for not keeping us safe. We called on Sturm Ruger and Smith & Wesson—two of the nation’s largest gun manufacturers—to improve their practices and to conduct a third-party human rights impact assessment of their products. 

We were met with silence

When Smith & Wesson decided to move their headquarters to Tennessee, we showed up to send them a message:

Our generation is breaking this cycle of gun violence that this industry helped create.

And this is what we’re continuing to fight for. Take action now by adding your name to our petition demanding Smith & Wesson improve its practices and conduct a thorough human rights impact assessment of its products.

Demanding divestment

Early in 2023, we launched our biggest effort to hold the industry accountable by going after their bottom line. Our college and university groups are calling on their boards to divest from the gun industry. Today, students on more than 50 campuses are demanding that colleges stop funding this #KillerBusiness

As soon as we launched our #KillerBusiness divestment campaign, students were ready to put their campaigns to work. Yale students met with their administration to talk about divestment, and students at Northeastern University and Boston University have thoughtfully pushed forward their campaigns. At the University of Virginia, students held a divestment rally just outside of where Governor Youngkin spoke at the university. 

Our divestment movement is growing in schools across the midwest, like Indiana University-Bloomington, Northwestern University, and Miami University—where students have collected nearly 200 petition signatures calling on the university to divest. Students at Florida State University, Morehouse College, Vanderbilt University, UNC Chapel Hill, and more launched their divestment campaigns. And as a sign of support for students’ divestment work at the University of Vermont, state lawmakers made explainer videos and urged the school to divest from the gun industry.

Students in colleges across the West jumped at the chance to call on their schools to divest from the gun industry. University of California, Davis, and Western Washington are in the top 5 schools with the most petition signatures. UC Davis doubled their petition signatures in a matter of weeks through consistent tabling on their campus.

Our movement will only grow from here. Divestment sends a message to the gun industry that we won’t accept their dangerous practices. Join nearly 2,000 students, alumni, and community members who have called on their schools to divest!

Nationwide walkouts

Following the tragic shooting at The Covenant School in Nashville in March, Students Demand Action and other youth-led gun violence prevention groups mobilized walkouts at the beginning of April. This drew more than 7,000 students to march on the Capitol to call for gun safety legislation. 

Students across the South joined in and walked out of their own schools. Students in Texas walked out following the shooting in Allen, Texas, and in North Carolina after the shooting at UNC Chapel Hill. 

Students in Denver, Colorado, organized walkouts attended by more than 1,500 students that helped to ensure the passage of gun safety bills—including one that raises the age to buy guns—and expansions to current Extreme Risk Protection Orders. 

And despite only being an official group for two weeks before the mass shooting in their community, students near Lewiston, Maine, quickly organized a walkout with hundreds of their classmates. 

In April alone, students at more than 300 schools across the country walked out and made their voices heard. Work like this only happens when students like us are dedicated, supportive, and ready to take action. If you’re ready to fight for a future free from gun violence, join Students Demand Action. 

Empowering young leaders

In 2023, we brought young activists together in Chicago, Miami, and Los Angeles for our Summer Leadership Academies! In each city, these activists met local lawmakers, partnered with community organizations, and developed plans to curb gun violence in their areas.

Text STUDENTS to 644-33 to be the first to know about the 2024 Summer Leadership Academies.

The inaugural Demand a Seat: Students Edition program brought 40 participants between the ages of 16 and 25 to Denver for a weekend of learning and leadership building. These young leaders from across the country gained an understanding of how to run for office and work on political campaigns by hearing from seasoned political pros and young lawmakers alike. They took a deep dive into the ins and outs of building winning campaigns and worked together to demonstrate the political power of young voters in the fight to end gun violence. Most of all, Demand a Seat: Students Edition showed young people that they aren’t the leaders of tomorrow, they’re the leaders of today — and their voices are powerful.

Watch us work

After a tragic shooting at Michigan State University, students advocated and helped pass a domestic violence bill, accompanied by a huge package of gun safety bills passed and signed by Governor Whitmer. 

During a Special Session in August, Tennessee students held the momentum they built in the wake of the tragic shooting at The Covenant School by taking action against dangerous legislation to arm teachers—which led to the bill failing in committee. 

In California, more than 800 students sent messages to their lawmakers urging them to pass AB 28, The Gun Violence Prevention and School Safety Act. This law will create a transformative Gun Violence Prevention and School Safety Fund that will support programs aimed at different facets of gun violence, promoting equal access to safety for all Californians—and this legislation is the first of its kind in the country.

Meanwhile, in Florida, students fought against bills that would lower the age to purchase a firearm. Through rallies and press conferences and with the help of several lawmakers urging legislators not to pass a Lowering the Age Bill, this proposal was defeated. 

And one of our student groups in Indiana was even recognized by their school board for their advocacy! 

To all students demanding action—new and seasoned—we are grateful for every one of you. From organizing to passing lifesaving gun legislation to leading divestment campaigns and everything else in between, thank you for being you. Let’s keep it going: Our successes are a testament to the power of our collective efforts. 

Looking ahead to this year, we can’t wait to continue witnessing the transformative power of students and young people. Cheers to the amazing work we did in 2023, and to the victories yet to come!

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