MyLastShot: Fighting School Gun Violence Through Outreach, Awareness

by Makhi Callins

That final photo could save a life. 

At least that’s the goal of the #MyLastShot movement. 

My Last Shot is a project that grew from the growing number of mass shootings and killings of children in America.  The movement encourages students to tell others to publicize the picture of their body if they are a victim of gun violence.

The #MyLastShot stick affixed to a driver’s license.

“Although it’s hard to measure what kind of change #MyLastShot is making in the world, I do know that it has caught a lot of attention of people across the country, opening their minds to gun violence,” said Kaylee Tyner, the founder.

Tyner was inspired by the graphic imagery of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old Black boy who was brutally murdered in Mississippi in 1955.  At Till’s funeral, his mother asked that Till’s casket be opened. She allowed photographs of the body to show how her son was mutilated. The pictures sparked a movement that led to major civil rights changes around the country.

Tiner said people like Emmett Till’s mother helped create change by not hiding the truth. 

“Due to the shocking nature of the project, I know that anyone who becomes aware of it is thinking about what the realities of gun violence truly look like, so that in itself is success for the project,” Tyner said.

Gun violence is not a new issue and the number of new mass shootings continues to rise.

Tiner believes teenagers taking part in the #MyLastShot movement can lead to changes in gun laws and how the country responds to mass shootings.

Firearms are the second leading cause of death for American children, and an estimated three million American children are exposed to shootings per year, a report from the National Research Council indicates. Between 2009 and 2018, the five deadliest mass shootings all involved assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. 

There have been 46 mass shootings where an assault or high-capacity weapons have been used. Of those 46 shootings, 716 people have been shot, and of that 716, 433 of them have resulted in death. 

In 2013, Congress renewed an existing ban on plastic firearms. Aside from that, not one new piece of gun control legislation has fully passed since 1999. 

The #MyLastShot movement encourages teenagers to put a sticker on their driver’s license that reads, “In the event that I die from gun violence please publicize the photo of my death.” Stickers are provided to participants on the movement’s website:

Like thousands of others, some Oklahoma students have embraced the moment. “I’ve personally been scared of being in a school shooting, especially when schools in my own state are getting threats,” said Jessica Dreyer, a high-school student in Mangum.

Dreyer and other students said the worries about violence happening in their school can sometimes eclipse the worry about their own education. “You would never think it would happen in your own school with people you’ve known your whole life, but it’s happened so many times, so who knows what could happen next,” she said. 

She said the #MyLastShot movement was about more than just stickers;  it was aimed at hitting on raw emotions and highlighting the voices of teenagers seeking change. Because gun violence continues, teenagers across the country are taking part in the movement, believing it will help the country and lead to positive changes in the conversation about guns.

“Children are our future, and we need to do more to protect them,” said Katelyn Duncan, a representative of CHNGE, a Massachusetts-based clothing company that brings awareness to social issues. “It’s more important now than ever that we work together to protect our youth, and put an end to gun violence.”

Duncan said the #MyLastShot movement has a very powerful way of letting people know the effects of gun violence.  Ultimately, supporters want others to know gun violence is real, and people can’t just come back. 

For high school students such as Dreyer, publicizing gun violence is another way to encourage people to take the issue seriously.

“The campaign is such a great idea, to finally show people and have them wake up to how violent and tragic these things truly are,” she said. “It’s hard for people to realize how intense and scary these things are unless you see it with your own eyes.”

Editor’s Note: This story was updated at 4:31 p.m. to include the last name of a source. Photos courtesy of the MyLastShot website.

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