From award-winning author Michelle Roehm McCann comes a young activist’s handbook to joining the fight against gun violence—both in your community and on a national level—to make schools safer for everyone.
Young people are suffering the most from the epidemic of gun violence—as early as kindergarten students are crouching behind locked doors during active shooter drills. Teens are galvanizing to speak up and fight for their right to be safe. They don’t just want to get involved, they want to change the world. Enough Is Enough is a call to action for teens ready to lend their voices to the gun violence prevention movement. This handbook deftly explains America’s gun violence issues—myths and facts, causes and perpetrators, solutions and change-makers—and provides a road map for effective activism.
Told in three parts, Enough Is Enough also explores how America got to this point and the obstacles we must overcome, including historical information about the Second Amendment, the history of guns in America, and an overview of the NRA. Informative chapters include interviews with teens who have survived gun violence and student activists who are launching their own movements across the country. Additionally, the book includes a Q&A with gun owners who support increased gun safety laws.
Chapter 1: America’s Gun Violence Epidemic: The Big Picture in Big Pictures CHAPTER 1AMERICA’S GUN VIOLENCE EPIDEMIC: THE BIG PICTURE IN BIG PICTURES
COLUMBINE… VIRGINIA TECH… SANDY HOOK… AURORA… SAN BERNADINO… ORLANDO… LAS VEGAS… PARKLAND…
We all recognize these names. We know what this list means. It’s a very short list of some of the deadliest mass shootings in recent US history. The sad part is that this list stretches back further than you would think. America’s first mass shooting happened in 1949 when a man strolled around his Camden, New Jersey, neighborhood gunning down thirteen of his neighbors. The sadder part is that, without our action, this list will continue to stretch out into the future, as more mass shootings are added to it.
How bad is gun violence in America today? Take a look at the big picture…
100 AMERICANS ARE KILLED BY GUNS EVERY DAY IN AMERICA.1
15,593 AMERICANS WERE KILLED BY GUNS IN ONE YEAR (2017).2
$229 BILLION! THAT’S THE COST OF GUN VIOLENCE IN THE US EACH YEAR.3
MORE AMERICANS HAVE BEEN KILLED BY GUN VIOLENCE SINCE 1968 THAN IN ALL US WARS COMBINED!
US WAR DEATHS SINCE THE REVOLUTIONARY WAR: 1.2 MILLION
AMERICA HAS A MASS SHOOTING 9 OUT OF 10 DAYS, ON AVERAGE.6
AFTER THE MASSACRE OF CHILDREN AT SANDY HOOK ELEMENTARY SCHOOL IN 2012, POLITICIANS SAID “NEVER AGAIN.” BUT THERE HAVE BEEN 1,977 MASS SHOOTINGS IN AMERICA IN THE 2,272 DAYS SINCE THEN.7 THAT NUMBER KEEPS GOING UP EVERY WEEK. YOU CAN CHECK THE CURRENT GUN DEATH AND INJURY TOLL AT THE GUN VIOLENCE ARCHIVE (GUNVIOLENCEARCHIVE.ORG).
WHAT IS A MASS SHOOTING? When you read mass shooting in the media, it usually means a shooting where four or more people are injured or killed, not including the shooter. Mass shootings don’t include all the other shootings with fewer than four people.8
AMERICA IS DROWNING IN A SEA OF GUNS
There are 393 million guns in America. That’s more than one gun per man, woman, and child.9
3% of gun owners own more than 50% of those guns.10
NEVER FORGET All these mass shootings can numb us. We forget that each gun death statistic was a unique individual with friends, family, and a story. Teen journalists across America are helping us remember through sinceparkland.org, a website they’ve created where they are sharing stories about the American kids who have been killed by gun violence.
THE US HAD THE SECOND-HIGHEST GUN SUICIDE RATE IN THE WORLD IN 2016. ONLY GREENLAND HAD MORE SUICIDES PER CAPITA.27
AMERICA HAS LESS THAN 5% OF THE WORLD’S POPULATION BUT HAS 31% OF THE WORLD’S MASS SHOOTINGS.28
91% OF CHILDREN KILLED BY GUNS IN HIGH-INCOME COUNTRIES ARE AMERICAN.29
AMERICA HAS LESS THAN 5% OF THE WORLD’S POPULATION BUT OWNS 45% OF THE WORLD’S GUNS.30
YEMEN HAS THE SECOND-HIGHEST GUN OWNERSHIP IN THE WORLD. IT IS A WAR-TORN, DEVELOPING COUNTRY, YET AMERICA HAS MORE THAN TWICE AS MANY GUNS PER CAPITA.31
OVER 90% OF AMERICANS SUPPORT EXPANDING BACKGROUND CHECKS, INCLUDING MOST GUN OWNERS.32
2/3 OF AMERICANS UNDER AGE 30 WANT TO STRENGTHEN OUR GUN LAWS.33
MORE THAN 2 MILLION AMERICANS JOINED THE 2018 MARCH FOR OUR LIVES PROTESTS, DEMANDING GUN LAW REFORM.34
A Final Word Although America’s gun problem looks enormous, there are lots of good solutions on the table and smart people working to change things. Progress is already being made. The next chapters will give you deeper information about each of these gun problems, the proposed solutions, and how you can help. STUDENTS TAKING A STAND HUNTER YUILLE, AGE 19, GUN VIOLENCE SURVIVOR AND PUBLIC SPEAKER1
“Thank you all for being here. It means a lot to me.” Hunter speaks quietly into the microphone, his eyes scanning the hundreds of supporters who have come to this somber event. It is silent for a long moment, until a friend in the front row yells, “Go, Hunter!” The crowd laughs with relief, and Hunter flashes a grin and continues.
“Five years ago, my mother was shot and killed in a mass shooting…”
It happened on December 11, 2012. Hunter Yuille was 13 years old and just home from school. He opened the fridge and groaned. No milk.
“That’s a big thing for me,” he says. “I love milk. I can drink milk all day long.” He was planning to make a quesadilla, but it wouldn’t be as good without a glass of milk. So, he called his mom, Cindy.
“Hey, we’re outta milk,” he complained.
“I’m on my way home now,” she told him. “I just have to stop at the mall; then I’ll pick up some milk.”
Hunter remembers the last words he said to her: “See you when you get home. I love you.”
Hunter ate his quesadilla (without milk, which was a bummer), then went to gymnastics practice. Afterward, his dad picked him up, which was weird because his dad never picked him up from gymnastics. It was always his mom. But Cindy wasn’t home yet. Nobody was worried—it was December, and the malls were packed with holiday shoppers. They figured Cindy’s errands took longer than expected. Hunter tried calling her but got no answer.
Hunter and his dad ate dinner. Then, because of the season, they turned on A Christmas Story. Near the end of the movie, the doorbell rang. Hunter was sure it was his mom—maybe she’d lost her house keys.
NEVER FORGET: CLACKAMAS TOWN CENTER SHOOTING When: December 11, 2012
Where: Clackamas, Oregon
How many died? Two
What happened? During the busy holiday shopping season, a shooter opened fire on shoppers and employees at this mall outside of Portland, killing two people and wounding a third. The shooter had stolen the semiautomatic rifle from a friend’s apartment earlier that day, where it had been left out, unlocked and loaded.
But it wasn’t Cindy. It was a police officer. And a therapist. Hunter’s dad told him to stay in the house while he stepped outside. “I knew something was wrong. I could feel it,” said Hunter.
His dad came back in with tears in his eyes. “It was the first time I’d ever seen my dad cry,” Hunter remembers. His dad told him that his mom wouldn’t be coming home. She had been shot. There had been a shooting at Clackamas Town Center—a young man opened fire in the food court. Two people had been shot and killed—Hunter’s mom was one of them.
When Hunter heard the news, he froze. He didn’t believe what he was hearing. “No, she’s not dead,” he said to himself. “She’s on her way home. She’s caught in traffic. This is not happening.” He didn’t cry. He didn’t feel anything at all.
Hunter went a couple months like that, expecting his mom to come home, expecting life to go back to normal. Hunter’s life didn’t go back to normal, however. In fact, it got worse. “I’m a 19-year-old addict in recovery trying to figure out how I’m supposed to grow up,” he says now.
Cindy Yuille, who Hunter calls Mom, was his adoptive dad’s wife—so, stepmom might be a more accurate term, technically. But for Hunter, Cindy was just Mom—the most stable, loving person in his life. She was a hospice nurse and the best parent he’d ever had. “Cindy was an amazing mom. She took me in, always treated me like her own. She cooked dinner, helped me clean my room, helped me do my homework. She was one hell of a person.”
After Cindy was shot and killed, Hunter’s life spun out of control. Less than a year later, 14-year-old Hunter was chain-smoking cigarettes, drinking beer, and smoking pot regularly. “It seemed like what every other teenager was doing. But my drug use progressed a lot quicker than other kids.”
Before long, Hunter found his way to more dangerous drugs and got addicted. He tried to get himself clean, but without Cindy’s support, it was all too much, and he found himself homeless, living on the streets. The summer after his junior year, Hunter dropped out of school. He thought about killing himself.
Today, Hunter is doing a lot better. “Drugs and alcohol didn’t get me anywhere. They got me homeless, on the streets. I had to make a change.” He got himself into a treatment program and into “sober housing.” He’s been clean and sober for nine months and plans to go back and finish high school soon. “My mom put that in my head: ‘You need to go to school.’?”
Hunter has also started speaking out, telling his story to help educate and inspire. A few months after getting clean, he went to the five-year remembrance of the Clackamas Town Center shooting. He wasn’t planning to speak, but when he heard others speaking, he thought, “Why not? I’ve got something to say too.” His words moved the crowd—the applause was loud and long. “It felt good. It felt really good. I was really nervous, but I made it through.”
In July 2018, he won a Giffords Courage Fellowship and flew to Washington, DC, where he joined twenty-eight other young people from across the country. They gathered to discuss the gun violence crisis and brainstorm solutions. Hunter was honored. “I never thought I would have this kind of opportunity. I think that we actually have a chance to change something.”2
Considering what he’s lost to gun violence, he is surprisingly open-minded about possible solutions. “Before the shooting, I loved guns. Lots of people I know have guns, and I think that’s fine. We shouldn’t take guns away from law-abiding citizens. We should focus on taking guns away from convicted felons. There’s a huge black market for guns,” he says. “And we should focus more on gun control. Background checks. Making sure gun owners are not mentally ill. Making sure people who have the guns lock them up.”
Hunter is working on forgiving his mom’s killer. “I can’t hate him anymore. You have to learn to forgive—you can’t hold on to stuff like that.”
Michelle Roehm McCann has worked as a children’s book editor and art director for more than twenty years, as well as writing and compiling several award-winning children’s books of her own. She lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband, two world-rocking kids, and their brilliant cats, Horace and Percy.
A handbook explaining why and how readers can do their parts to end gun violence.This is a substantive look at the causes of the serious epidemic of gun violence in America and a how-to manual for making positive changes to create safer schools and communities. Using well-researched facts, this book dispels the myth that nothing can be done. Topics covered include the impact of gun violence on marginalized communities (systemic racism and structural violence, Black Lives Matter, hate crimes), the history of the National Rifle Association, strategies and policies in states that are successfully combating gun violence, and information about gun control in other developed countries. Standout graphics and images as well as informative graphs and maps and a mixture of eye-catching fonts keep readers' attention and make the data easier to absorb and remember. Profiles of activists, many of them teens who have been directly affected by gun violence—and even a few gun owners who advocate for responsible gun ownership—at the end of each chapter place a human face on the epidemic. Most usefully, the book contains detailed strategies for taking action, beginning with the foreword by Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. While the harrowing stories and facts will make an impact, this book ultimately seeks to empower young people. Will give readers tools for combating a problem that leaves many feeling helpless.
– Kirkus Reviews, September 15, 2019
“America is the gun-craziest country in the world,” McCann writes passionately in her deeply researched and highly informative book about guns in America. The statistics she cites are staggering: e.g., a total of 1,297 American children are killed by guns each year; 5,790 more are injured; gun violence is the numbertwo killer of young people, second only to car accidents; 31% of all gun deaths and nearly 50% of gun homicides are young people; and there are many more, a number of them presented in the form of numerous charts and graphs. This lively and smoothly written book is replete with sidebar features, as well, including, notably, profiles of student activists like survivors of the Parkland and Sandy Hook shootings. McCann divides her material into four major sections: "The Problems," which focuses on gun violence; "How We Got Here," which features a scathing profile of the NRA; "The Solutions," which examines states with strong gun laws; and "Take Action," which emphasizes things young people can do, including contacting their representatives in Congress and launching boycotts. Clearly McCann’s book is a work of advocacy—a clarion call to action, and she expresses her hope that it will inspire readers to become gun safety activists. One hopes she will succeed.
– Booklist *Starred*, October 1, 2019
This is one of the most important books to purchase for your library, particular given the large number of mass shootings that have occurred in the United States in recent years. The author does a tremendous job of explaining the issues surrounding gun control and gun violence and provides information about people involved in gun control issues and why they become involved. It provides perspectives from both sides of the issue, as many of the individuals profiled include those who strongly believe in everyone’s right to have a gun, but who believe that doing so should be done with much responsibility. Every piece of information provided is backed up with substantial data, including figures such as the drop in suicide rates and gun deaths with stronger firearm laws being passed in states such as Massachusetts and Oregon. The portion on the 2nd Amendment and the history of the NRA, including how it morphed into such a strong political presence, was intriguing and the bios on victims of people involved in shootings made for a very strong read. The end of the book includes substantial ways for teenagers to become involved in the political process and provides guidelines for how to speak with people about such a controversial issue. This is a book that every library needs on their shelves. Robyn Young, School Librarian, Avon (Indiana) High School
– School Library Connection, November/Decembter 2019
*MCCANN, Michelle Roehm. Enough Is Enough: How Students Can Join the Fight for Gun Safety. 320p. further reading. glossary. notes. Atria/Beyond Words. Oct. 2019. Tr $22.99. ISBN 9781582707006; pap. $12.99. ISBN 9781582707013.
Gr 7 Up–With students becoming more involved in gun control debate and activism, this encompassing and attractively designed overview of the facts, effects, and advice from gun control activists will capture the attention of many teen readers. The acknowledgement that urban gun violence went ignored long before mass shootings began to increase is welcome, as are statistics and detailed explanations of how gun violence uniquely impacts women, the LGBTQ community, and BIPOC. Readers are introduced to teens involved in gun control activism—many of those profiled have either been personally affected by gun violence or are advocating for responsible gun ownership and control. Plenty of charts, graphs, and pullout stats make the content accessible for a variety of readers; information is clearly labeled and doesn’t clutter the pages. Advice on how to advocate for gun control is clear-cut. An account from a teen who grew up in a hunting environment, a mention of Columbine survivor and Colorado state legislator Patrick Neville, who supports arming teachers with guns, and an acknowledgement that the majority of gun owners have guns for non-nefarious purposes are included. Although this title is aimed at teens, adults could also gain insightful information on activism. VERDICT This encompassing guide will be a boon for students eager to become better educated about gun violence and gun control, especially with regard to suggestions on meaningful ways to get involved. A timely, thoughtful, far-reaching, and inclusive look at gun control and gun violence issues. – Jennifer Schultz Angoli, Fauquier County Public Library, Warrenton, VA
– School Library Journal STARRED REVIEW, October 2019