Troy, MI — March For Our Lives Michigan mourns the four students killed and the eight people who were injured at the shooting at Oxford High School. Our hearts are with the families and friends of these students, as well as the entire community in Oxford.
This is an unspeakably tragic event. Young people in Michigan should not be afraid to go to school for fear of being murdered. But we must speak on it. The fact is, if we lived in a country that responded urgently to the crisis of gun violence, this would never have happened. You wouldn’t be able to purchase a gun one day and use it to murder children just days later. But in this country, in this reality, the shooting at Oxford was the 20th school shooting since we returned to class this fall. The gun violence epidemic is crushing America’s children under its weight. Our leaders have uniformly failed us. It pains us to ask: Will they ever protect us?
Countless children and their families across Michigan are trying to figure out right now if it is safe to be at school. Our learning is deeply disrupted when schools are closed yet when schools don’t close, even in the face of threats, we’re left wondering whether we can be safe at school at all? This is our reality.
“For the past two days, my school district has shut down due to threats we’ve received, and going back to school seems more dangerous than ever before,” said Jayanti Gupta, Co-State Director of March For Our Lives Michigan and a High School Senior in Troy, Michigan. “It’s terrifying to see the sheer number of threats across Michigan. In a place meant for us to feel safe and learn, we’re expected to defend ourselves at a moment’s notice. How can we be expected to learn when we are constantly looking over our shoulder, terrified that the threats are going to come true.”
Young people are in a state of crisis. Across the country, but especially in Michigan and especially in Oxford, we urgently ask for support for survivors, their families, and those of us who have been impacted by gun violence. Young people and teachers are in a state of fear and anxiety, and appropriate mental health support is urgently needed.
Everywhere we go, children fear being shot. At school. On a bus or a train. In parks. No place in America is safe. In the wake of the tragedy in Oxford, thousands of lives have been torn apart. Children and teachers have been left in anguish. An entire community has been wrenched. The stain of this tragedy runs deep—not one of us is unaffected.
“At times, I blame myself for not doing more to prevent this. But this is on policymakers, not me or any other youth organizer,” said Mikah Rector-Brooks, Co-State Director of March For Our Lives Michigan and a Freshman at the University of Michigan. “We work tirelessly to enact change in our communities and the nation at large, yet we are ignored. We are not given a place to speak. We are not given a seat at the table. This should not be Gen Z’s fight; we are children. Nevertheless, that choice has been stolen from us. So we fight on. This is personal. We won’t back down.”
Young people have started four new chapters of March For Our Lives in Michigan this week. As we are still trying to make sense of this tragedy, young people—children—are already trying to prevent the next one. This monumental crisis isn’t for children to solve. And yet, we’re forced to because we are under constant attack, and no one is defending us. Our leaders are asleep at the wheel while we face bullets.
Today, this horrible story continues. That the shooter’s parents have been charged with involuntary manslaughter is a welcome move towards accountability. It is an unprecedented acknowledgment that for every act of violence, there is a system that allows it. Someone who allowed them to buy the weapon, and a culture that glorifies firearms in the first place. But the fact is, we can’t criminalize our way out of the gun violence crisis. If it did, we wouldn’t be here today. No one can say that we don’t prosecute school shooters harshly enough. As long as guns are this easy to access, we will always be holding our breath waiting for the next shooting. Our lives will hang in the balance. Children will not be pawns. March For Our Lives will fight desperately in Michigan and beyond to end gun violence. We demand change now. This violent epidemic must end.
About March For Our Lives
March For Our Lives is a national youth-led movement to end gun violence in America. Its mission is to harness the power of young people across the country to fight for sensible gun violence prevention policies that save lives. Since March 2018, students from all across the United States have called for common-sense reforms that will save the lives of more than 3,000 young people each year, including: implementing universal, comprehensive background checks; creating a searchable database for gun owners; investing in violence intervention programs, specifically in disenfranchised communities; funding the Centers for Disease Control to research gun violence so that reform policies are backed up by data; and banning high-capacity magazines and semi-automatic assault rifles. Concurrently, March For Our Lives has established nearly 300 youth-led chapters across the country, continuously growing this chapter network to give young people a local forum to exercise their activism. For more information, visit marchforourlives.org.