In the final moments


Photo courtesy Wiki Media Commons

Sandy Hook was one of the first widely publicized and well-known school shootings, with young victims in elementary school.

Margaux Burkhart, Staff Writer

Recently in my civics class, we discussed gun control and gun violence, and I was deeply disturbed and upset by the things I heard. The discussion was based around if we believed that gun control should be put into place, specifically surrounding assault weapons. Many classmates dismissed mass shootings, said that 10 or fewer people dying really isn’t that bad, laughed at the topic of school shootings, and explained that violence is natural at this point. I was saddened hearing my classmates speak with such an utter disregard for humanity, and it dawned on me that they may just not quite understand the severity of the issue at hand.

In 2021 alone, there were 34 school shootings and 66 mass shootings, according to the Gun Violence Archive. A mass shooting is loosely defined, but most sources define it as a shooting with at least two people left injured. From the mass shootings, the death count lies at about 80 people, with 291 injured. While at a glance this may not seem like a large amount of people in comparison to the population of the United States, each one of those numbers is a person. Someone who other people loved and cared about. A real human being with emotions and feelings who faced a fearful and gruesome end. 

My civics class experience has given me a need to educate my peers about the severity of gun violence in America, and so here this article is. I hope that it can teach even one person that gun violence is no laughing matter and needs to be properly addressed. I present to you a list of the final words from mass shooting victims, words from survivors, and words from family members:


Boulder King Soopers shooting victim Rikki Olds 

“See you Thursday.”


Waffle House shooting victim Akila DaSilva 

“I can’t breathe.”


Parkland school shooting victim Luke Hoyer

“I love you too, mom.”


Chardon school shooting survivor Nick Walczak

“He shot me three times. In my- in and out of my arm, in my neck, in and out of my shoulder, and then I remember getting up and running. He ended up chasing me down and shot his last bullet in my back, and that’s what paralyzed me.”


Parkland school shooting victim Jaime Guttenburg’s father

“My job is to protect my children, and I sent my kid to school.”


Santa Fe school shooting survivor Chase Yarbrough

“It was a shotgun. That was his weapon that he used, so it burst out like buckshots. And so it landed different places. I have one in my arm, one in my back. I have one that’s in my head that’s currently in my head. I had one that was a freak incident; it entered through here [he points to right below his ear] and somehow traveled down the bloodstream and is currently in my heart.” 


Parkland school shooting victim Martin Duque Anguiano’s brother

“He was sweet and caring and loved by everyone in his family. Most of all, he was my baby brother.”


Parkland school shooting victim Nicholas Dworet’s father

“It’s a broken dream. This kid was a dream. He was the best of us.”


Stoneman Douglas school shooting survivor Aalayah Eastmond

“I witnessed six of my classmates being shot and two of them being murdered. One of which was Nicholas Torret who saved my life. I had to hide underneath his body to survive.”


Parkland school shooting victim Cara Loughran’s friend 

“I never got to say goodbye to her. I can’t close my eyes without thinking of my friend.”


Oxford school shooting victim Tate Myer’s brother

“Never in my life will I feel this pain again. This still isn’t right, it can’t be. I miss you with everything in my heart, Tate. What I would do to see you one more time.”


Parkland school shooting victim Scott Beigel’s student

“Mr. Beigel was my hero and he still will forever be my hero. I am alive today because of him.”


Freeman High School shooting survivor Lorraine Robinson

“I was convinced we were going to die.”


Oxford school shooting victim Justin Shilling’s family

“We cannot conceive of life without him.”


Philadelphia shooting victim Ralph Kennedy’s mother

“He didn’t do anything.”


Stoneman Douglas school shooting victim Joaquin Oliver’s friend

“He’s never going to graduate high school like I get to graduate. He’s literally stuck there forever.”


Savannah State University school shooting victim Kaleel Clarke’s father

“For my son to die like that yesterday… it didn’t make any sense.”


Santa Fe school shooting victim Aaron Kyle McLeod’s friend

“He definitely didn’t deserve this.”


Freeman high school shooting survivor Emma Nees

“While I was running, I felt a pressure on my hip, but I figured that was just somebody [throwing] their books because they were running and it hit me. I didn’t think much of it until I got into a classroom and was safe and I was sitting in the corner of the classroom. I looked down and I saw blood coming out of my hip and I immediately knew I had been shot.”


Parkland school shooting survivor Carlitos Rodriguez

“I lost many familiar faces. A part of me was lost. A part of me stayed behind in that classroom.” 


Gun violence is a very real issue and it still continues to rage. I urge you all to understand the severity, and try to do your part in stopping gun violence. Visit the link below to learn more about what you can do to help.