“Gun violence has torn up many communities across the country,” wrote queer gun control activist X Gonzalez in a March 2018 op-ed for Teen Vogue.
School shootings are something Gonzalez knows about. In February 2018, when they were a senior at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, a 19-year-old former student, Nikolas Cruz, shot and killed 17 people and injured 17 others.
In the three years since Parkland, dozens of school shooters have killed or wounded dozens of students and staff, but when it comes to sensible gun laws in the United States, not much has changed.
Gonzelez writes that common sense gun laws have been out of reach due to “negligence on behalf of local and national government to properly regulate access to guns, ignorance to their constituents’ varying situations, and willingness to take money from organizations that very clearly do not have the best intentions for the future of the United States.”
Following the shooting in Parkland, Gonzalez became an anti-gun violence advocate, helping to organize youth across the country. While the Parkland shooting was particularly notable because of the high number of fatalities and injuries, it was far from unique. Since 2018, there have been 87 school shootings where at least one person was injured or killed, Education Week reports.
This week’s mass shooting at Oxford High school, north of Detroit, marks the deadliest mass school shooting in the U.S. in three years; a mix of 10 students and teachers were shot and killed by a student. With a few weeks left in the year, 2021 has already seen a record number of school shootings — 29 and counting, according to Education Week.
These figures don’t take into account two of the most harrowing high school shootings in recent history (the 1999 Columbine, Colorado shooting where 12 students and one teacher were killed and Sandy Hook, Connecticut, where a former student shot and killed 20 children between 6 and 7 years old and six adult staff members).
Despite efforts by activists like Gonzalez and several parents of Sandy Hook victims, who have worked tirelessly to curb school shootings, not much has changed when it comes to gun violence in recent decades. Oxford, sadly and tragically, is proof of that.
Allegedly, Ethan Crumbley, a 15-year-old sophomore at Oxford, used a 9mm handgun purchased by his father on Black Friday and opened fire at his school on Tuesday, Nov. 30. Since then, Crumbley, who is being charged as an adult, has been charged with shooting four of his schoolmates and is responsible for injuring seven people. If found guilty, he would face mandatory life in prison without the possibility of parole.
In her Tuesday remarks about the incident, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said gun violence is a “uniquely American problem” and “a public health crisis that claims lives every day.”
Gonzalez, whose lived experience includes surviving a mass school shooting, blamed the inaction on representatives beholden to the power of lobbyists like the National Rifle Association (NRA).
“Young people in this country have experienced gun violence for their entire lives, only to be faced with a number of representatives and officials who have been seduced by the gun lobby or have generally failed to make effective change,” they wrote in the Teen Vogue op-ed. “The pro-gun propaganda peddled by the National Rifle Association feeds myths about gun ownership, and these myths arguably perpetuate the suffering of thousands of Americans each year.”