Three years ago, students across the country organized and marched to end gun violence, taking on responsibilities beyond their years, pleading for action. Today, we are still fighting for our lives. We are still pleading for action. Students remain impacted by gun violence, not only because of the fear of school shootings, but also the shootings that occur in neighborhoods, homes, and in our communities. An estimated 3 million children in the United States are exposed to shootings each year and 51 young Americans are shot and wounded every day. Despite this, we have not seen major federal gun safety legislation passed in our lifetimes. We, the undersigned students from across the country, urge you to take bipartisan action and pass legislation to update our background check system.
Background checks are the foundation of any comprehensive gun safety strategy. Since 1994, background checks have blocked more than 3.5 million illegal firearm sales to people prohibited from buying or owning guns. However, our law has a deadly loophole that permits dangerous individuals to avoid a background check and purchase a gun from an unlicensed gun seller, no questions asked—including sales conducted by strangers that meet online or at a gun show. This legislation is common sense and has broad bipartisan support, including the support of 89% of gun owners and Republicans.
We represent young people from coast to coast. We are Black youth who experience disproportionate rates of gun violence in our communities. We are Asian American youth who have been the targets of increased hate-motivated violence. We are Latinx youth who are three times more likely to die by firearm homicide than our white peers. We are non-binary and transgender youth who fear for our lives. We are survivors coping with the trauma related to gun violence. We are advocates, allies, students, current and future voters, and your constituents. We demand bipartisan action on background checks.
Our current background check laws were written over 25 years ago, before all of us were born. Young people in the United States have been waiting our entire lives for action on gun safety while some of us have had to see our classmates, families, and community members shot and killed. The truth is, firearms are the leading cause of death for children and teens in the United States, and you hold the power to change this reality. We urge you to act now on behalf of the future. It is time to update our background check laws.