Skip to content
A student holds up a sign that says “Text Students to 644-33”
Students Demand Action

“Texting Is an Integral Part of the Gun Violence Prevention Movement”

Students Demand Action is a group of high school and college-aged students organizing to end gun violence in America. A critical part of that organizing is contacting gun violence prevention advocates from across the country to share information and help them get involved in the movement.

The Students Demand Action Text Team utilizes a peer-to-peer texting platform to communicate actions, educate our grassroots base, and welcome new students to the movement. Anyone can join the Text Team, whether it’s your first gun violence prevention action or you’re an experienced organizer.

We spoke with eight members of the Students Demand Action Text Team about why they joined, how the team has influenced their advocacy, and why others should get involved. 

Answers have been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Why did you join the Text Team?

Aidan Lapatine (he/him), CT

  • Text Team member since Dec. 2022

    I joined the Text Team because I wanted to do something for Students Demand Action while I was waiting for my school to approve the chapter I was starting for the 2023 school year. Texting is a really easy way to take action, and I came to enjoy communicating with like-minded folks!

Emily Padrow (she/her), OR

  • Text Team member since Fall 2022

    I joined the Text Team because I wanted to take action to prevent gun violence. As a future educator, gun violence has always been at the back of my mind as I think about ways I might need to save the students who will one day be in my classroom. People shouldn’t be afraid to send their kids to school, to go to the grocery store, or even to step outside of their houses. Gun violence has had a large impact on me in recent years, and the Text Team felt like the right way for me to take a step toward change.

Jenna Hirschman (she/her), VT

  • Text Team member since Oct. 2023

    I first text-banked during Gun Sense University in 2021, when it was completely online. I enjoyed it and thought text-banking was a low-commitment way to participate nationally in Students Demand Action. In December, I attended Demand a Seat: Students edition, where I was connected with other Text Team members—and that encouraged me to finally join.

Maxine Slattery (she/her), MA

  • Text Team member since March 2023

    I joined the Text Team so I could get involved with other Students Demand Action leaders outside of my region and so that I could make change in a convenient and stress-free way. I am also a volunteer with the Moms Demand Action Gun Sense Action Network, but I find making calls to strangers stressful, so I appreciate the relative social ease of the Text Team responsibilities.

Oshioke Garuba (he/him), GA

  • Text Team member since Fall 2023

    I joined the Text Team because too many lives have been disrupted and/or taken away due to gun violence—I wanted to contribute to the fight to end it.

Pearl Lee (she/her), PA

  • Text Team member since Summer 2023

    I joined the Text Team because I had been receiving text messages from Everytown for Gun Safety and from Students Demand Action for a while. When I found out that I could be a part of the group sending the messages, I was immediately interested.

Reem Khalifa (she/her), NY

  • Text Team member since Oct. 2023

    I joined because I wanted to work on ending gun violence, even when I’m busy with life.

Sophie Chang (she/her), GA

  • Text Team member since May 2023

    I joined because I kept receiving text messages from fellow students, and I wanted to join in on the action! I was already involved with the national training team and looking to start my own high school chapter of Students Demand Action, and I was curious to find other ways to get plugged into combating gun violence.

What has been the most gratifying part about texting with Students Demand Action?

Aidan Lapatine: I think the most gratifying part is being able to talk to people and get them started with Students Demand Action, or letting them know about upcoming events. In February of 2023, after the shooting at Michigan State University, we had a huge text campaign about the rally at the capital. I personally could not be at the rally, but I was able to get involved in so many other ways through the text team, like helping to facilitate logistics about parking and signs.

Pearl Lee: I always enjoy hearing people’s stories of how they have taken action in the gun violence prevention movement. From learning about the events they organized to how they have raised awareness within their communities, the responses I receive always inspire me to continue my advocacy for gun safety.

Sophie Chang: The most gratifying part about texting with Students Demand Action would have to be that we have the opportunity to reach students and adults all over the nation! The platform we use, Spoke, makes texting those from all areas of the United States extremely accessible. And it is such a privilege to talk with those of all different backgrounds and regions to garner universal support for the gun violence prevention movement!

How, if at all, has texting with Students Demand Action helped you learn and grow as an organizer?

Emily Padrow: It has helped in many ways. First, I’ve been able to connect with a diverse group of individuals who are passionate about the same cause of ending gun violence and banning assault weapons. It also ensures that I’m informed about events, regulations, and policies that are occurring in the United States. Lastly, it has helped me grow as a communicator by engaging in productive conversations with different groups of individuals.

Jenna Hirschman: Being part of the Text Team has shown me an effective form of communication within an organization. Getting people to show up and care is always the hardest part of being an organizer, and Students Demand Action has been able to do just that.

Oshioke Garuba: Texting with Students Demand Action has taught me the importance of communication and time management. You need to have these two essential skills if you want to make an impact on the world. 

What do you wish you would have known before joining the gun violence prevention movement?

  • Aidan Lapatine

    Gun violence prevention is a tough issue, and there is no one solution to it—nor is this a quick campaign. The people within the gun violence prevention movement have a multitude of opinions; we can’t solve this in a day. We will not always have big wins, but it is vital to celebrate the small ones.

  • Emily Padrow

    I would tell myself to remember that change takes time. You can’t go into something and think that change will happen immediately, especially with a large cause. Remember that every step of action is important, and it will build up into larger steps of change.

  • Jenna Hirschman

    I’d tell myself not to be scared to get involved. Students Demand Action was the first time I did advocacy work, and I started at my high school’s group. I didn’t join the Text Team until this year, and I wish I had joined earlier. There are so many places to get involved in the movement—I wish I had realized that sooner.

  • Maxine Slattery

    This is hard work. It is okay to feel like progress is being made slowly, if at all. Take care of yourself, take breaks, and don’t expect yourself to be as strong as others around you.

  • Oshioke Garuba

    Change doesn’t happen overnight. When you have gun lobbyist groups contributing money to the election campaigns of some politicians, progress will be stalled.

  • Pearl Lee

    In many ways, I’ve always been part of the gun violence prevention movement. My mom volunteered with Moms Demand Action when I was younger, so I often joined her in attending local events and fundraisers. It wasn’t until high school that I learned about Students Demand Action and decided to start my own group. I was reluctant at first because I felt as though other people would be more influential than I would be, but I realized that there are a multitude of ways to take action against gun violence and that everyone has something to contribute to the movement. You also can’t always count on other people to make the changes you wish to see—so it’s important to push yourself to get involved.

  • Reem Khalifa

    I wish I had known how incredibly supportive the gun violence prevention movement would be. Working with Students Demand Action has exposed me to people who are now some of my closest friends in my city and across the country! Students Demand Action staff are always open and easy to talk to, and they help with literally anything that is needed. I wish I had joined sooner, because my time with Students Demand Action has been absolutely amazing.

  • Sophie Chang

    Don’t be afraid to reach out! There are so many amazing volunteers within the movement who would love to get to know you, so don’t be shy to reach out and make new friends!

Some people believe that a text is insignificant and has no “real” power in advocacy. How do you respond to that statement?

Reem Khalifa: As someone who believed in that sentiment up until joining the Text Team, I would say join us and see our impact for yourself. Being able to send 400k texts in the last year as an organization while recruiting so many people from different backgrounds and lives has been incredibly personally fulfilling, and it helps jump-start so many peoples’ futures in advocacy!

Maxine Slattery: A text is an easy and personal way to get involved. Everyone is on their phone, and when you receive a text directly from a volunteer who is addressing you by name, you really feel wanted and needed in this movement. It is so easy to get involved by responding to one of our texts, and I have been able to connect people with the best resources to get started.

Pearl Lee: Before I started the Students Demand Action chapter at my school, I received text messages from Everytown. Seeing the incredible work that the gun violence prevention movement was doing helped motivate me to get involved myself. Now, as a member of the Text Team, I see firsthand how texts can lead people to advocacy. From encouraging people to take action to engaging people in events within their communities, texting is a powerful tool that should not be underestimated.

Sophie Chang: From seeing the way the Text Team has impacted Everytown volunteers, specifically those who have survived gun violence, I would completely disagree. Texting is an integral part of the gun violence prevention movement because it enables us to rally as many advocates as possible to join the fight. Through our Text Team, we’ve been able to reach people via 400k texts this year, and this has been monumental in organizing things like events with the Vice President of the United States. Through texting, we can reach people who wouldn’t have heard about these events otherwise!

What would you say to someone who might be interested in joining the Text Team or the GVP movement, but may not feel completely ready?

  • Aidan Lapatine

    To sum it up: The Text Team is a small commitment that is a really easy and good first step for anyone joining Students Demand Action.
  • Emily Padrow

    Just do it! Initially, I felt as if I wasn’t completely ready, but once I stepped in, I realized how fulfilling it was. You’re able to have a flexible schedule—as long as it is within the time that texts can be sent—and if you need a short break, that is okay! Getting involved was a decision I will never regret.
  • Jenna Hirschman

    Students Demand Action and the Text Team can be whatever you make them. If you want to get involved, just do it—it can be a low or a high time commitment, and you will find a place where your skills are useful in the movement. Even if you don’t feel ready, you can start with 5 minutes a week. I have learned so many things from Students Demand Action that I will take with me for the rest of my life, and I hope others can experience all the movement and activism have to offer.
  • Maxine Slattery

    It is not a huge time commitment, so jump right in and see if the Text Team is a fit for you! Starting with the Text Team is a great way to get involved in the movement and to connect with other activists.
  • Oshioke Garuba

    There is nothing to worry about if you become a volunteer for Everytown. The staff and volunteers are good people who will be there for you whenever you need help.

  • Pearl Lee

    Join! The Students Demand Action Text Team is such a supportive, collaborative, and enthusiastic community. Everyone encourages each other, and there are so many people and resources to help guide you. Also, find people to support and join you. Whether it is talking to friends and teachers at school or reaching out to Students Demand Action members online, taking action in the gun violence prevention movement is much less overwhelming when you have people by your side to encourage you.

  • Reem Khalifa

    There are so many ways to get involved; even small-scale advocacy makes an impact. The Text Team is truly incredible. Being able to make an impact with my computer from anywhere in the country—for only a couple minutes per week—is so gratifying. You won’t regret joining.
  • Sophie Chang

    Joining the Text Team is a great way to start using your time and abilities to get involved in the movement without a super huge time commitment. You aren’t obligated to text in every single text flow, so you can just participate when you have the time. It is also a way you can get involved digitally, without really having to talk to people in person, if you don’t feel completely ready to do that just yet.

The Latest