Letter to High School Seniors on Gun Control

Dear High School Seniors:

Census.gov’s report on voting by age from 1980 to 2016

Do you want to see an end to school shootings?

If so, are you eligible to vote? If you are eligible, have you registered to vote?

If you’ve ever felt frightened or sad or angry in the wake of tragedies like the mass shooting yesterday at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, please know that you have tremendous power right at your fingertips.

If every high school senior in America who feels as you do goes into a voting booth during the 2018 mid-term elections and pulls the lever for a candidate who advocates for sensible gun control laws, you can fight this insanity.

You can break the cycle:  mass shootings –> expressions of thoughts and prayers –> viral social media posts –> inaction by Congress –> forgetfulness by the electorate –> more mass shootings.

While adults my age wring our hands and become skeptical, you, my young friends, are my hope for our future.

Resist. Register. Vote. Persist.

Lest you think you have no power, look at the statistics for presidential elections between 1980 and 2016. According to Census.gov, 71% of Americans who are over the age of 65 cast votes in the 2016 election, but only 46% of those between the ages of 18 to 29 showed up at the polls. According to Pew Research, these older voters preferred Trump by only an 8% margin, while your age group preferred Clinton by a whopping 18% margin.  But not enough of you showed up to make a difference.

As this chart shows, we have a history of older Americans voting at much higher rates than younger Americans. Perhaps you think your vote doesn’t count, but it does count, and the more you vote, the more your vote counts on issues like gun legislation. In 2008, the second highest voter turnout in your age group during the time period on this chart, America elected Barack Obama, our first African-American president—despite the fact that only 51% of your age group voted.

In mid-term elections, when voters of all ages are less likely to vote, can you imagine your power if you organize and get out the vote?

The most prominent Republicans in our national politics who have the loudest voices on gun legislation are also the ones who get the most money from the National Rifle Association. Over the course of his career, Florida’s Marco Rubio has accepted $3,303,355 in campaign contributions from the NRA, and in 2016 alone, Florida politicians received a million dollars, the third highest of any state in the nation.

You have the power to fight that money—to have the final say on who gets to write the laws that govern our use of firearms.

Remember those statistics. Can you imagine your power if 100% of you show up at the polls this year? Or even if 75% of you show up? You could completely change the composition of Congress before this year ends. That’s immediate gratification that doesn’t happen very often in politics.

Resist. Register. Vote. Persist.

If you don’t know how to register, USA.gov has a guide that explains rules and guidelines by state.

You have the power. And not even the NRA’s money can take that away from you.

One thought on “Letter to High School Seniors on Gun Control”

  1. Design and sell bumper sticker, lapel button, hat. Get visual.
    I’ll stand in line to buy.
    I had an M-16, in Vietnam.It’s for killing, only.

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