NEW YORK – Everytown for Gun Safety, and Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, both part of Everytown’s grassroots networks, today called on U.S. Youth Soccer to prohibit guns at games and advocate for gun safety following several violent incidents involving a gun at children’s sporting events since fall sports began, including a U.S. Youth Soccer Tournament in Utah in which a man displayed a rifle, causing panic and chaos. According to tracking of media coverage, there have been at least 20 incidents in just the last month of guns or gun violence at a youth sporting event.
In a letter to U.S. Youth Soccer, Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action, calls on the sports association to “take a stand against the presence of guns at youth sporting events” by prohibiting guns at games, asking parents, coaches, and volunteers to leave their guns at home, and proactively encouraging lawmakers to pass laws that keep guns away from the places children play.
“Kids’ sports have become the latest in a long list of places no longer safe from gun violence,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. “Sports associations have the power to make these spaces safe for kids again — they can and should prohibit firearms at games and call on their local leaders to put an end to the gun lobby’s ‘guns everywhere’ agenda.”
“Sports are one of the few places students can feel safe and empowered,” said Maddie Ahmadi, a member of the Students Demand Action National Advisory Board and a volunteer leader with Students Demand Action in Vermont. “When I’m on the soccer field, I should be focused on winning and doing what I love — not concerned that there could be a gun nearby. We shouldn’t have to live in fear of gun violence on the field, at home, or at school. Local leaders must act now.”
Recent incidents of gun violence at sporting events are not an anomaly. An estimated 3 million children witness a shooting every year with long lasting impacts on their well-being. Children exposed to violence, crime, and abuse are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol; suffer from depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorder; resort to aggressive and violent behavior; and engage in criminal activity; and lower grades and more absences from school.