Ella F, Junior
As students of this generation, we are extremely aware of the mass shootings that plague this country, especially those that take place in schools. We repeatedly experience a new horror every time we hear about a fellow high school student murdered by a legal semi-automatic weapon. Because of this, the gun control movement is mainly being led by youth activists, whether it be school shooting survivors or high school students fearing the next horrific event. Grandmothers Against Gun Violence organization represents the other side of the spectrum: the older generation fighting for gun control. Stereotypically, older people tend to be in favor of “keeping their guns” these views more consistent with an old-fashioned way of thinking. Grandmothers Against Gun Violence confronts this stereotype as they raise awareness for gun control through protests, speeches, and various other events throughout Seattle.
Although these grandparents have not been students for awhile, they value the opinions of high-schoolers with the utmost importance. Sarah Rosoff, a junior here at the Northwest School, spoke to some of the members on September 11th at their “School Safety and Lockdowns from 3 Perspectives” event. I sat down to talk to Rosoff about her experience.
EF: Can you describe the atmosphere when you went to speak at this event?
SR: The majority of the audience was elderly women, specifically grandmothers, and their husbands and granddaughters. It seemed like everyone knew each other, there was a big sense of community among them.
EF: Can you describe the racial diversity?
SR: There was racial diversity, somewhat. I think that knowing and understanding the fact that gun violence is something that disproportionately affects communities of color and poor communities is important. And although there was some diversity, there wasn’t enough to balance out the people who were actually affected by it.
EF: Do you think the grandmothers are making change?
SR: Yes, I think they’re doing a great job of spreading awareness and educating the older generation on gun control.
Rosoff comments on the racial diversity in Grandmothers Against Gun Violence not being proportionate to the amount of people of color affected by the issue. Aalayah Eastmond, a survivor of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting last February, in her testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee at the confirmation hearing of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, spoke on the topic of P.O.C.s being affected by gun violence and police brutality in America. “As for people of color, law enforcement is the “shooter” in most cases,” her testimony reads. Control of firearms not only should apply to citizens but law enforcement officers, who senselessly kill people of color in the name of “self defense.” The work of Grandmothers Against Gun Violence mostly refers to mass shootings committed by citizens, however, the large percentage of firearm deaths of P.O.C.s due to police violence is very important to note.
On the Grandmothers Against Gun Violence website, they say “We are an active, enduring, effective grassroots organization. We show up.” They are currently working on writing to legislators in order to pass I-1639, Washington state’s latest gun control initiative. I-1639 would change the purchasing age of a firearm from 18 to 21, and ensure safer firearm storage, and stricter background checks before the purchase is made. “Our legislature failed us,” the website says, “it is time for Washington citizens to act.” On September 19th, Beacon Hill’s Cleveland High School went on lockdown due to a shooting in the area, wherein one youth was injured. According to KOMO News, a chaotic scene arose in the high school and students sent their family and friends texts such as, “I’m on lockdown and if I don’t get back to you, I’m probably dead.”
“We are grass roots with deep roots and, as grandmothers, we seek a safer world for our grandchildren and for theirs,” the Grandmothers Against Gun Violence “About” page says. Because the grandmothers have had children, sent them to school, and have seen their children do the same, they can come from a compassionate place of understanding for the students who advocate for gun control. The unique perspective they provide is so special because of how many years they have spent having faith in the fact that their children and grandchildren would come home safe from school. Some parents are not afforded that luxury.
As a school, we must share the grandmothers’ spirit and drive, their motivation and care for this cause. We must show up to rallies. Write legislators. Register to vote. If we do not take action, our children and grandchildren may share our fears, losses, sadness. The Grandmothers Against Gun Violence strive to make the world safer for us and everyone in it, and we must continue their work until we are grandparents ourselves.