While it’s extremely grim to think about kids dying from gun violence, it’s become an inherent part of living in American society, and while democratic presidential hopefuls like Kamala Harris is pushing for “smart gun safety laws,” Congress has yet to pass any meaningful changes, and the students of Columbine High are preparing themselves for whatever terrorism may come to their way with #MyLastSHot.
Initially founded by 17-year-old Kaylee Tyner, the campaign asks students to put a printed sticker on their ID or cellphone, a symbol which would indicate to whoever finds their body in the event that the unthinkable happened, full permission to share graphic photos of their death. While none of these student were even born when the Columbine shooting took place nearly 20 years ago, where 12 students and one teacher were shot and killed, the horrific event continues to hover like a dark cloud over the people of Littletown, Colorado, exacerbated by the new violent acts of terrorism which seem to happen every month.
Tyner’s #MyLastShot quickly caught fire on Twitter, and David Hogg, a student activist who survived the tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, joined the movement right away. “Our country has a history of photography effecting real change,” Kaylee Tyner, told CNN in a phone interview on March 30. While Tyner’s parents were initially shocked by their daughter’s campaign, Tyner said, “In the end, my parents were like, ‘If that’s what you want to do with your body then it’s your choice,’ so they support me and they will be my advocates if I ever am to die like that.”
Tyner also has the support of Democratic state senator, Julie Gonzales, and Democratic rep. Tom Sullivan, who lost his son Alex in the 2012 Aurora movie theatre shooting, and personally knows the power of seeing such types of graphic photos. Talking to Denver Channel News he said, “Enough is enough. It’s sad that they are even thinking about something like that, it just disappoints me to no end. This is the generation that knows nothing else but active shooter drills in school.”
As the campaign continues to gain momentum, here’s what you need to know about #MyLastShot
1. The Death of Emmett Till Inspired #MyLastShot
Remembering Emmett Till‘s untimely death Tyner said, “His parents insisted the world see the imagery of his death,” and that those pictures “exposed the racial divide in our country and helped usher in the civil rights movement.”
In 1955, Till’s parents held a public funeral after their 14-year-old African American son who was abducted and killed for allegedly whistling at a white woman. For the hundreds of thousands of people who came to pay their respects were forced to look at Emmett’s disfigured body and see the effects of this hate crime. The photos were included in Time’s 100 Most Influential Images of All Time.
2. #MyLostShot Stickers Must Be Printed and Signed
The official sticker of the campaign will read: “In the event that I die from gun violence please publicize the photo of my death. #MyLastShot.” After talking with a parent or close confident about one’s decision, students are instructed to sign the sticker, and then place it either on their ID or cellphone.
Kids and teenagers are able to get their sticker by going to the campaign’s website, in which you can order the sticker in a package of 50, or print them out yourself. On Twitter, users proudly showed off their newly minted stickers, and shared their personal reasons for joining the movement.
3. Parkland Shooting Survivor David Hogg Joined the Campaign
A big catalyst for #MyLostShot gaining momentum happened when outspoken gun law activist, 18-year-old David Hogg, who survived the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, jumped on board. Tweeting a photo of his I.D. card with the printed sticker, he wrote the campaign’s suggested tagline “In the event that I die from gun violence, please publicize the photo of my death.”
The message was retweeted nearly 5,000 times, and Hogg, who co-authored the book #NeverAgain: A New Generation Draws the Line with his younger sister Lauren, is currently taking a gap year before attending Harvard University in order to continue rallying for gun law changes.
4. Detractors Worry About Grieving Parents & Graphic Photos Flooding the Media
If graphic photos of victims of gun violence are signed off to be shared with the public, could this kind of agreement apply to those killed in war? Drunk driving accidents? Cancer? At what point do pictures of mutilated victims stop swarming the media – and should they be stopped?
While Townhall considers #MyLastShot “strange,” in the flood of Twitter responses to the campaign, much of the apprehension to supporting #MyLostShot is worry that grieving parents will not want to see their mutilated child’s photo in the news. One woman tweeted, “Wow. I’m trying to give a parent perspective here. I follow some parents who lost their children at Sandy Hook. They do fight for gun laws. They have also spoken out that they would not want photos of their dead children floating around.”
A direct response to that tweet wrote, “I too am offering a parent perspective. These wouldn’t be ‘leaked” or ‘unauthorized’ photos. If my daughter or son wanted to do this in the horrifying event that it happened to them I would support their decision. Somebody needs to do something.”
5. Continuous News of Mass Shootings Prompted Tyner to Take Action
While Tyner says that Columbine High “is as normal as you can make a high school that has gone through a shooting,” she also adds, “there’s also a lot of security at the school.” In addition her school’s former massacre, in 2012, when she was 13-years-old, a movie theatre shooting took place not far away in Aurora, Colorado. “That’s when it hit me,” Tyner said. “This can happen to anyone, at anytime. Columbine is just one of the many.”
She was also incredibly moved to act after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas. “Those videos were just so horrific and so real,” Tyner said. “I remember seeing people on Twitter saying it was so horrible… but what I was thinking was, no, that’s the reality of a mass shooting. It’s hard for [parents] to think about their own child dying, but the reality is that gun violence has such a large impact on the community and [is] such a large threat. It’s a conversation that needs to be had.”