Kyle Mayer, Contributing Photographer

On Tuesday, Yale College Democrats and Yale Students Demand Action reflected on the state of gun violence in America and honored the four-year anniversary of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. 

The event, titled “Anniversary in Action,” focused on gun violence reform and honoring the legacy of the tragedy. Sari Kaufman ’24, a graduate of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and the co-founder of Yale SDA, recalled her memory of the tragic events that took place on Feb. 14, 2018. Kaufman was joined by Sen. Chris Murphy, who called into the in-person event via Zoom. Murphy emphasized the importance of focusing on gun reform given the high rates of gun violence in the United States, which sees over 100 gun-related deaths per day.

“Being reminded of the [mass shooting in Parkland, Fl.] everyday empowered me to take action, and do something before other people had to go through what my community and I experienced,” Kaufman said. 

Kaufman was a sophomore in high school when a gunman took the lives of many of her classmates and faculty. This semester, Kaufman and Ryan Pascal ’25 co-founded a chapter of the national organization Students Demand Action at Yale. SDA works to pass gun safety measures on the federal and state level, and they plan on raising awareness on campus and working with the New Haven community to decrease gun violence.

After Kaufman’s speech, Murphy reflected on the issue of gun violence and instilled hope for the future. The senator noted that the issue of gun violence is a uniquely American problem.

“It’s not because [the United States] has more mental illness, because we don’t,” Murphy said. “It’s not because [the United States] spends less money on law enforcement, because we don’t…What makes [the United States] different is the easy access to guns.” 

In America, Murphy said, buying a military grade weapon can be as easy as buying a gallon of milk. 

Both Kaufman and Murphy drew attention to instances of gun violence that don’t attract media attention. Murphy cited an example from a visit he made to a Baltimore school, where a code green alarm sounded, signaling that a gun-related death had just occurred in the neighborhood. “Lockdowns were a part of daily existence in these schools,” Murphy said.

“We were so grateful to have the opportunity to partner with SDA on this,” Yale Dems Vice President Emma Wallner ’24 said. “Coupled with [Kaufman’s] moving testimony, Sen. Murphy emphasized the role that Gen Z plays in gun violence prevention post-Parkland. Yale Dems understands this responsibility to advocate for reform in New Haven, Connecticut, and across the country with the goal of saving more lives.”

Murphy added that young adults bring a certain “moral authority” to “righteous causes of action,” which helps them be particularly effective in advocating for changes. He added that he was confident that reforming the gun industry and decreasing gun violence is possible, even if it will not happen overnight. 

There were over 45,000 gun-related deaths in the United States in 2020, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Olivia Lombardo is a beat reporter for the News covering the Jackson School and the School of Management. She is a sophomore in Morse College studying Political Science.