High school students across the country are using the hashtag #IfIdieInASchoolShooting as the latest way to bring attention to the issue of gun violence and their desire for reform.
The hashtag was started May 20 by Andrew Schneidawind, a student at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia.
Schneidawind said there were several motivations for the creation of the hashtag, not least of them being the increasing number of school shootings.
“Especially after the tragedies in Parkland and Santa Fe, I felt like I had to think of another way to remind people, especially politicians of what their inaction is doing,” said Schneidawind. “So, I started the hashtag because it’s an easy way to collect everyone’s hopes and dreams, memories, last meals, requests, or whatever. People are already telling me they are super heartbroken by seeing them, and so I believe it’s possible that maybe politicians will see it.”
Schneidawind also stated many participating in the hashtag and the similar #IfIDieInAMassShooting are tagging their senators and representatives in their posts.
However, these politicians have yet to respond, says Schneidawind.
This form of activism is having an impact, with hundreds of posts using both #IfIdieInASchoolShooting and #IfIDieInAMassShooting.
Some of these posts are coming from local high school students, including Kaylee Tyner, a member of the executive council for the newly launched gun reform advocacy organization Team Enough.
“I don’t usually tweet stuff like that, but as I was looking through the hashtag I was seeing all these people talking about, I won’t be able to grow up and get this job or do this sort of thing, and I kind of wanted to take it from the standpoint of, like if this does happen to me, here’s this record of what I want you to do,” said Tyner. “I felt like the hashtag was really powerful because there were so many people who were participating in it. It’s horrible to think about, but I think it’s a very blunt reality of what goes through a lot of students’ minds.”
Team Enough is a youth-led advocacy organization centered around student engagement in gun violence prevention and continuing momentum for change, including voter education and community empowerment. The organization is focused not only on school shootings, but also addresses the issue of gun violence in the context of minority communities, LGBTQ+ communities, and domestic violence.
“If we were to take it from the standpoint of only advocating for helping to make schools safer, that totally takes away the fact that shootings happen at concerts and churches, and literally every public place,” said Tyner. “There’s a lot of domestic violence in our country as well, and so if we really want to be able to make the issue better, we have to look at it from all sorts of different grounds. Not everyone has ties to mass shooting gun violence, but more people than not have ties to self-inflicted gun violence. The more areas we take it from, the more people will be able to be part of the conversation.”
The hashtags #IfIdieInASchoolShooting and #IfIDieInAMassShooting are still trending on Twitter.