Gun safety activists and nonprofits announced Thursday the creation of a yearbook memorializing the dozens of school shooting victims from last year and are mailing a copy to President Donald Trump.
The 2018 Yearbook features 37 victims of gun violence in K-12 schools and universities and in school vehicles during school hours or events in 2018. Each victim has an empty “yearbook photo” alongside their name to memorialize them. The yearbook does not list deaths by suicide or self-inflicted injuries, and it does not include shooters.
“A yearbook should be about commencement, hopes and dreams and what comes next in life. Unfortunately, this yearbook is about none of those things,” the yearbook’s website says. “Instead … this yearbook is about bearing witness to a uniquely American tragedy and finding the courage to do something about it. Because even at a time when we seem so divided, we must be united in the belief that children should not be shot to death at school. It is that simple.”
The yearbook was created by a coalition that include Scarlett Lewis, founder of the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement and mother of a victim from the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting; Julia Cordover, a University of Florida student who was class president during the 2018 high school shooting in Parkland, Florida; and the groups Search for Common Ground, Amani Project and Common, a collaborative brand network.
“As a society, we’ve been making this yearbook for decades; we just didn’t realize it,” Common founder Alex Bogusky said in a statement. “Using the normally innocent and hopeful form of a yearbook to capture this tragedy is an attempt to jar us out of complacency.”
In addition to Trump, copies of the yearbook will be sent this month to state governors, 2020 Democratic presidential candidates and every member of the Republican-controlled Senate, which has so far refused to vote on House-passed gun control legislation. The groups hope that the lawmakers receive copies of the yearbook before Dec. 14, the seventh anniversary of the Sandy Hook massacre in Newtown, Connecticut.
“The time has come for each of us to be part of the solution,” said Lewis, whose 7-year-old son, Jesse, was one of 26 people to die in the Sandy Hook mass shooting. “It is one thing to empathize with the victims and feel their pain, but quite another to actively do something to keep our kids safe. The yearbook is a physical reminder that we are accountable for our children’s safety and a call to uphold that responsibility.”
The organizers are also planning to launch a Twitter campaign to further reach out to politicians about the yearbook so they can bring “attention to an ongoing tragedy,” according to a news release. Copies of the yearbook will not be available to the public, but organizers will hold a public exhibition of it Dec. 11-29 in Brooklyn, New York. Lewis and Cordover will give remarks at the exhibition’s Dec. 11 opening.
Students in Kensington, Maryland, decided earlier this year to create a similar yearbook, according to WRC-TV. Teenagers at the Temple Emanuel synagogue began planning the “Yearbook of the Fallen,” which would include victims of school shootings last year. The students planned to use it to lobby Congress for gun control legislation.
On Feb. 14, the Miami Herald’s front page named nearly 1,200 children who had been killed by gun violence since the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre a year earlier.
“The 12-month period starting Feb. 14, 2019, saw nearly 1,200 lives snuffed out. That’s a Parkland every five days, enough victims to fill three ultra-wide Boeing 777s,” journalist Kevin Hall wrote. “The true number is certainly higher because no government agency keeps a real-time tally and funding for research is restricted by law.”
Everytown for Gun Safety is a nonprofit organization that began tracking all cases of gunfire on school grounds since the Sandy Hook massacre in order to help build a national database on school shootings. From 2013 to 2018, Everytown found more than 400 incidents of gunfire on school grounds, 260 of which occurred at an elementary, middle or high school. The gunfire resulted in more than 100 deaths and nearly 220 injuries.
The organization has reported at least 99 incidents of gunfire on school grounds so far in 2019, the latest being Dec. 2 in Waukesha, Wisconsin.