It’s the time of year again when our Facebook feeds are populated by family members and friends wearing graduation gowns, throwing up their caps, and tearing up because they accomplished one of the first important milestones in their teenage lives — graduating high school. Sadly, this is a milestone unobtainable by approximately two thousand students every year who lose their lives to gun-related violence.
In order to celebrate these students’ lives and put a face to this pressing issue, New Yorkers Against Gun Violence created a yearbook that features their photos and quotes describing their personalities, favorite pastimes, and unaccomplished dreams—as well as the circumstances of their deaths.
Signing the yearbook not only shows support for the victims’ families but can also effect real change, as the yearbook doubles as a petition that will be presented to Congress. Every signature added before June 25 will be printed in the physical copy of the yearbook and signify the signer’s support of universal background checks for gun purchases. As of now, thirty-eight states do not require any legal or medical paperwork for people purchasing guns. At the same time, an American child dies every thirty minutes due to gun-related violence.
Very few issues divide Americans as strongly as the right to own firearms. But seeing the potential we have lost in the faces of these children and how many unfulfilled dreams we have wasted is more powerful than any statistic.