The Virginia chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, part of Everytown for Gun Safety’s grassroots networks, released the following statements in response to yesterday’s mass shooting in which two people were shot and killed and five others shot and wounded outside the Altria Theater in Richmond after the Huguenot High School graduation in Monroe Park. Monroe Park is located on the Virginia Commonwealth University campus. The investigation is ongoing and the high school graduation ceremony at Thomas Jefferson High School will be rescheduled due to the shooting. Graduation ceremonies for three schools were scheduled at Altria Theater on Tuesday.
“A day that is supposed to be a milestone celebrating our next chapter has now been ruined by gun violence,” said Sophia Ennis, a volunteer with the Virginia chapter of Students Demand Action and a rising sophomore at Virginia Commonwealth University. “From the time many of us started school, we have been told to run, hide, and fight when gunfire begins — we shouldn’t have to live that reality out any day, but especially during our graduation. I am heartbroken and hope that this will be a wake up call for our leaders to pass laws that will keep guns out of our communities.”
“We are heartbroken and devastated for all who were impacted by this senseless act of gun violence and families who were gathering to celebrate their loved ones’ graduation,” said Kristin DuMont, a volunteer with the Virginia chapter of Moms Demand Action and former teacher at Huguenot High School. “Gun violence is removing the joy from the most important moments in life. We must not grow apathetic and continue to call on leaders at all levels to pass laws that will protect our communities from gun violence.”
So far this year, there have been at least 61 incidents of gunfire on school grounds, resulting in 20 deaths and 40 injuries nationally. Firearms are the leading cause of death for children and teens. When it comes to how American children are exposed to gun violence, gunfire at schools is just the tip of the iceberg–every year, nearly 4,000 children and teens are shot and killed and 15,000 more are shot and wounded, and an estimated three million children in the U.S. witness gun violence every year. Witnessing shootings—whether in their schools, their communities or their homes–can have a devastating impact. Children exposed to violence, crime, and abuse are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol; suffer from depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorder; fail or have difficulties in school; and engage in criminal activity. The impacts of this crisis are shaping an entire generation of Americans.
In an average year in Virginia, 1,121 people die by guns and 1,911 people are wounded. Gun violence costs Virginia $14.2 billion each year, of which $288.3 million is paid by taxpayers. More information about gun violence in Virginia is available here.
To speak to a local volunteer with Moms Demand Action, a volunteer with Students Demand Action, or a policy expert, please don’t hesitate to reach out.