A week after a gunman stormed Santa Fe High School in Texas and killed 10 people, survivors of the massacre held a press conference in west Houston, Texas. Students and staff both spoke at the event, and one Santa Fe shooting survivor warned lawmakers that if they don't pass meaningful gun control laws soon, they should start looking for a new line of work.
"I want to thank everyone for all their thoughts and prayers," junior Megan McGuire said, according to ABC News. "They are very needed and appreciated. But I do have something for our elected officials who think that doing nothing is acceptable. My thought is that if you do not do something, you do not have a prayer of being elected. My generation will see to that."
Friday's press conference was held under the banner of March for Our Lives, the gun reform movement founded by survivors of the February school shooting in at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Several of McGuire's peers also took the mic during the event to demand stronger gun laws, and some credited the Parkland survivors with spurring them to action.
"I followed the Parkland kids closely after [the shooting], and their action and their voices were so inspiring to me," said one unidentified Santa Fe student. "Later that week, I convinced my mom to let me go to March for Our Lives Houston, and I attended in March, and it was honestly so inspiring to see so many people my age speaking out for what they believe in and standing up for victims." She added that she wants "to ensure that that never happens to anyone else," and voiced support for stronger gun regulations.
After the Santa Fe shooting, a Washington Post study found that in 2018 so far, more people have died in school shootings than in the U.S. military. According to Everytown Research, there has been around one school shooting in the United States every week since 2013, and the Gun Violence Archive says that there have been 34 U,S. school shootings in 2018 so far, including both K-12 schools and college campuses. More broadly, over 26,000 American children have been killed by guns since the Columbine massacre in 1999, according to The Washington Post, making guns the third-leading cause of death for children in the United States, per a study published in Pediatrics.
A handful of Parkland students have turned to activism since the shooting at their school. In addition to organizing the March for Our Lives, they've held pro-gun politicians' feet to the fire on national television, been praised by former President Barack Obama in Time and, thanks to several black students at Stoneman Douglas, stressed the importance of addressing police violence as part of the broader effort to reduce gun deaths.
Several states have passed stronger gun laws since Parkland, and congressional Democrats have proposed laws aimed at reducing gun violence, including an assault weapons ban and the introduction of Gun Violence Restraining Order (GVRO) laws, which would make it easier for family members and roommates of individuals with guns to bring about their confiscation by law enforcement. The GOP-controlled Congress, however, has not put any gun control bills up for a vote, with with Speaker of the House Paul Ryan explaining in February that "we shouldn’t be banning guns for law-abiding citizens."
As the Santa Fe students were giving their press conference, there was another school shooting, this time in Indiana. According to ABC News, a middle school student open-fired on a classroom with two handguns, but was quickly tackled to the ground by a teacher. The teacher and two others were injured, according to CNN.