Funders: Support New Student Strikes to Reform Gun Laws

It’s hard to render me speechless. I am accustomed to speaking and responding frequently. As a healthcare provider, it is a big part of my job. And when COVID happened, as an editor and writer, I took extra time and energy to create a COVID 19 special edition to call attention to women’s leadership at that critical juncture.

gun violence
Students gather at a student strike to end gun violence in Pawtucket, Rhode Island on June 1, 2022. (Image credit: Carlos Munoz, Boston Globe)

But as a writer and as an American, I have been rendered speechless over the last week since the massacre of children and teachers in Uvalde, Texas.

It is impossible to imagine the horror of the parents and families of these innocent children and teachers. And to read that one fourth grade girl called multiple times begging for the police to come — it just brings me to a place of utter speechlessness for the degraded state of our country. We are truly a nation of savages. Or perhaps even worse than savages — people who will knowingly and willingly put children in harm’s way.

It’s both sobering and terrifying to realize what monsters we’ve become in the world’s eyes. This event has prompted me like no other to look for other alternatives for myself and my family. I am currently meeting with a British immigration specialist next week to learn about options for dual citizenship. There seems to be no hope for better legislation or protection from gun violence in the near future in the U.S. It seems unfair to myself and my family not to exercise what capacities a I can to find alternative living arrangements, should the situation in the U.S. continue to deteriorate.

Killer in Uvalde Threatened to Rape and Kill Girls Online

It came as no surprise to me to learn that Salvador Ramos was a bullied child and someone who was likely trauma re-enacting on girls online before he became a mass murderer, by threatening to kill and rape them. The girls reported him, but, no surprise again, nothing was done.

What Can We Do to Stop the Gun Violence?

March for our Lives has been working this territory since the mass shooting in 2018. The group last organized one of the largest rallies ever on the on National Mall following the February 14, 2018 school shooting in Parkland, Florida. The survivors and their supporters, more than one million strong, who came together to form March For Our Lives, are now planning another rally on June 11 in D.C.

“Together, we rose up 4 years ago,” the group recently wrote on their Twitter page. “1 million of us demanded change. We built a movement. We voted for new leaders. And the gun deaths increased. Now is the moment we march again.”

To me, centering this movement with and for students is the way to go. Until there are measurable results in terms of background checks and a reinstated ban on assault weapons, I am going to support what students need to make this movement happen.

Movement for School Strike Could Build Over Summer

This may be an overly optimistic view of how the organized effort could go, but school strikes seem like a good way to continue to apply pressure for change. Here are just a few thoughts on how to align forces for supporting school strikes.

  1. Use the Summer to Organize and Plan the School Strikes: Having the summer to strategize and communicate behind the scenes could be a key factor in making these school strikes particularly effective.
  2. Reach a unilateral agreement across all schools and other affiliated organizations — parent organizations, police, fire, hospitals, medical professionals, etc, to strike as of a certain date in the fall in order to begin the strike in an orchestrated way.
  3. When school is scheduled starts in the fall, if the assault weapon ban hasn’t been reinstated, students will not go to school. It will be the Republican NRA-bought legislators who will then be standing in the way of our students and their future education.
  4. Funders and allied nonprofits can work to support students, teachers, and families whose lives will be disrupted due to the student strike. Providing support for child care, educational tutoring, and other services to ensure that students can get back on track after the strike is essential.


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Author: Kiersten Marek

Kiersten Marek, LICSW, is the founder of Philanthropy Women. She practices clinical social work and writes about how women donors and their allies are advancing social change.

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