As graduation season begins in earnest and families across the country celebrate the hard work and achievements of their students, incidents of gun violence surrounding graduation ceremonies are on the rise, turning celebrations into tragedy. Just last night, gunfire broke out as students and families were leaving the Hammond High School graduation on Southeastern Louisiana University’s campus. According to reports, three people were shot and wounded. On the same night, a similar story unfolded in Gaines Township, Michigan when two people were shot and wounded outside of East Kentwood High School as a graduation ceremony was wrapping up.
Earlier this week in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, a high school student was killed and another person was wounded by gunfire that broke out after the Riverdale High School graduation on Middle Tennessee State University’s campus. And last Friday, a shooting across from an Arizona convention center where the Hot Springs World Class High School graduation was being held left one person dead and three others wounded. These shootings follow a dangerous trend that saw several shootings at graduation events last year.
“High school graduation should be one of the highlights of our lives, not a destructive day of gun violence,” said Flynn Williams, a graduating senior in Oregon, a volunteer leader of Students Demand Action and a member of the National Advisory Board. “Gun violence surrounding every aspect of our lives is a tragic reality our generation is forced to live with. We will not let gun violence stop us from celebrating our biggest accomplishments, and we know there is more work to be done to ensure that future students don’t have to graduate with the fear of crossfire.”
“No public space in America is immune to gun violence, including graduation ceremonies — events that should be celebratory and safe,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. “This is the tragic but logical outcome of the gun lobby’s dystopian ‘guns everywhere’ agenda. As we grieve the lives lost in recent shootings across the country, we will continue to demand life-saving action from our leaders on every level.”
As stories of mass killings, daily shootings, and hate-motivated violence continue to overwhelm the news, the need for common sense gun safety laws is more critical than ever. Research shows that strong gun laws save lives, but across the country, some state lawmakers are actively working to weaken existing protections. This comes as the Supreme Court is poised to rule on New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen, a case that could undermine gun safety laws across the country. If the Supreme Court forces states to allow more guns into more hands in more public spaces, it will further threaten public safety and could lead to even more gun violence.
Lawmakers at every level have an important role to play in making our communities safe. They must prioritize a common sense gun safety agenda to save lives and put an end to the senseless acts of violence permeating our daily lives.