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Gun Violence Takes Center Stage During Class of 2024 Graduation Season


Gun Violence is the Leading Cause of Death for Children and Teens Mass Shootings In 2024

NEW YORK — At the height of graduation season, this Memorial Day weekend saw celebrations for the Class of 2024 across the country brutally interrupted by alarmingly high rates of gun violence. Everytown for Gun Safety, and its grassroots network of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action released the following statements in response to these incidents of gun violence, which highlight the need for robust action to address gun violence, especially when children and schools are bearing the devastating burden of this epidemic.

“Once again, we are seeing an alarming pattern of graduations and graduation celebrations turning deadly because of gun violence. Gun violence is impacting our communities everywhere – from our schools to our movie theaters, parades and now, not even graduation parties feel safe,” said Angela Ferrell-Zabala, executive director of Moms Demand Action.“Every student should be able to celebrate milestones like these with their family and friends without the fear that gunfire could ring out at a moment’s notice. But, this is the reality created by lawmakers who continue to put the lives of their constituents above the gun lobby. Our lawmakers must take decisive, common-sense action to protect our children and communities.”

“Students like me have experienced anything but a ‘normal’ education. From the fear of school shootings to traumatizing lockdown drills and everyday gun violence in our communities, gun violence has dominated our childhoods and our education.” said Cora Lynn Mundy, Students Demand Action National Organizing Board Member and graduating senior at Staten Island Academy in New York. Now, it’s become clear that even as we try to celebrate major milestones like graduation, we can’t escape the number one killer of our generation: gun violence. This is the reality we live in. Does it have to take gunfire interrupting processions for our electeds to notice this is a problem? We demand a future where students don’t need to live in constant fear.” 

Gunfire at graduation events over the holiday weekend devastated communities across the entire country:

  • On Thursday night, a graduation ceremony for Skyline High School in Oakland, California was interrupted when gunfire erupted in the school parking lot, wounding three adults. 
  • The following evening, on Friday, May 24th, an 18-year-old was shot and injured at a graduation party in Battle Creek, Michigan. 
  • On Saturday, there were at least three separate incidents of gun violence at graduation celebrations. Roosevelt High School in Des Moines, Iowa’s graduation was interrupted when a shooting right outside the ceremony led hundreds of people running outside of the Drake University’s Knapp Center. 
  • In Beaumont, Texas, a shooting at a large graduation party left two people injured.
  • Four people were injured by gunfire Saturday night at a graduation party at Casey Lake Park in North St. Paul, police said.
  • At a graduation party in north St. Paul, Minnesota, four people were injured by gunfire when shots erupted on Saturday night. 
  • On Sunday in St. Paul, at least three people were injured in a drive-by shooting at a graduation party. Three separate shootings in the city over the weekend resulted in 10 injured
  • Also on Sunday, in Birmingham, Alabama, at least one person was wounded after gunfire erupted at a possible graduation party.
  • Gunfire also disrupted graduation celebrations earlier in the week. On Sunday, May 19th, a graduation ceremony for Cape Central High School at the Show Me Center in Cape Girardeau, Missouri was interrupted when gunfire broke out, injuring two people.
  • On Wednesday, May 22nd, one person was left dead after gunfire erupted at a North Marion County Middle School awards ceremony in Marion County, Florida.

During this year’s graduation season, many students are undoubtedly celebrating this important milestone without their fellow classmates, favorite teachers and administrators, and close loved ones by their side due to the country’s gun violence epidemic. During the 2023-2024 school year, there have been numerous incidents of gunfire on school grounds, resulting in several deaths and injuries nationally. This does not include the countless incidents of gunfire in close school proximity.

Gunfire at celebratory events has sadly become commonplace in America. Over this Memorial Day weekend, alarming rates of gun violence in cities across the nation resulted in over 300 shootings nationally — including 45 people being shot in Chicago alone. Sadly, this is not an isolated event. Moments of celebration continue to fall victim to gun violence across the country. Over Easter weekend, there were at least 248 shootings across the country. Earlier this year, communities across the nation were shocked when gunfire erupted at the Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl Championship parade in Kansas City, resulting in at least one person being shot and killed and an additional 22 victims who were shot and wounded. At least half of the shooting victims were under 16. This phenomenon is a result of the extremist, shoot-first culture created by the gun lobby’s “guns everywhere” agenda. Common-sense gun safety laws like secure firearm storage, keeping guns out of sensitive places, and keeping firearms out of the wrong hands are just a few solutions to help prevent gun violence from harming communities. 

Firearms are the leading cause of death for children and teens. When it comes to ways American children are exposed to gun violence, gunfire at schools is just the tip of the iceberg. Every year, more than 4,000 children and teens are shot and killed and 17,000 more are shot and wounded, and an estimated three million children in the U.S. are exposed to shootings per 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. 

Learn more here about the impact of gun violence on children, and here for the risk of gun violence on school campuses.