Recent Hashtag Confronts Gun Violence

Amanda Young, Staff Writer

While the legislative standstill persists, 18-year-old college freshman Andrew Schneidawind posted the hashtag on Twitter, “#IfIDieInASchoolShooting,” on May 20, encouraging teachers and students across the United States to share what they would miss should they be killed by school campus gun violence.

This campaign highlights the ghastly reality that students across the country now attend their schools with uncertainty about their own safety ever looming.

Suggesting that this crisis has inspired people to seize the moment and live without regrets over simplifies the problem. This is not how young people should be forced to live.

According to BBC, 45,000 posts responded to the hashtag within 24 hours. Schneidawind told Teen Vogue that he plans to print tweets listed under the hashtag to mail them to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and other legislators who receive money from the National Rifle Association (NRA).

The message is simple: children should not be murdered in places meant to be as nurturing and safe as schools. This message, for it to catalyze change, must strike a chord in the hearts of those who up to now have been resistant to acknowledge that guns are the problem.

Since 2009, the United States has endured 288 school shootings, according to CNN. We have endured 22 shootings in 2018 alone. It’s May, a mere 21 weeks into the year.

Instances of gun violence in schools has become as common and inevitable as Mondays: there has been 1 every single week. #IfIDieInASchoolShooting encapsulates this distress perfectly: how truly sad is it that teenagers across America have essentially turned to ultimatums and are publicly publishing their “last wishes “in an attempt to push lawmakers to act?

“[School shootings have] been happening everywhere,” Santa Fe High School shooting survivor, Paige Curry, told ABC-13. “I’ve always kind of felt like eventually it was going to happen here, too.”

This campaign, to me, is both sobering and heartbreaking. School shootings’ almost-ubiquitous prevalence has cultivated a constant state of fear for students.

Politicians have, predictably, remained largely quiet about this hashtag. This is, I believe, a considerable issue considering that they are the ones who have the power to end this madness.

As I was scrolling through the posts, it felt like a slap in the face: social media platforms are no longer places for remembering fun vacations, displaying innovative photography, or commemorating friendships. Twitter has now become a place for teens to post their wills.

So, here’s my contribution to the crusade: if I die in a school shooting, I will become another statistic- another victim forgotten by the media after a celebrity scandal or political outrage clouds the news cycle. I will never graduate from high school or college; I will never get married, have children, travel the world, nor see my friends and family. I will never get to watch my sister’s softball tournaments again. Per my food allergies, I will never get to eat chocolate bars or nuts or cakes with eggs. I will miss out on my cousins’ graduations and won’t see the UCLA Women’s Gymnastics team win another national title. I’ll die before I can live my life and realize my potential.

Most importantly, I won’t see the day that we finally do something meaningful and effective in order to end school campus gun violence.

Dear lawmakers: please don’t let this be my fate.