The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

The Huntington News

The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

The Huntington News

The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

The Huntington News

Students Demand Action founded at Northeastern to combat rising gun violence

Ananya Kulkarni
Members of Students Demand Action table at a voter registration event in Curry Student Center. The Northeastern chapter of SDA was founded this fall.

This fall, Northeastern students founded a new chapter of Students Demand Action, or SDA, to advocate for state and federal gun control and gun legislation, educate students about gun violence and offer a space for students passionate about ending gun violence to come together.

Students Demand Action is a national organization with more than 600 chapters across the country in all 50 states and Washington D.C. SDA started out as a smaller organization but quickly grew to the national level within two weeks of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School mass shooting. 

President of Northeastern SDA Alexa Grayson founded the campus chapter at the beginning of the fall 2023 semester. Grayson, a fourth-year human services and international affairs combined major, discussed the safety she felt while in other countries without gun violence and the horrors of hearing the experiences of students involved in mass shootings in the United States.

“I have been very passionate about ending gun violence for a long time, especially because every person in this country has somehow felt affected by it,” Grayson said. “I went abroad to Spain where there is no gun violence, and the safety that I felt I didn’t know was possible. We all deserve to feel as safe as I did when I was abroad.”

According to Giffords Law Center, an organization that drafts gun control legislation and educates people about gun violence, about 43,000 people in the U.S. die annually from gun violence, around 39% of which are homicides. Mass shootings such as Parkland in 2017 and Uvalde in 2022 sparked outrage and activism across the country, reigniting calls for stricter gun laws. 

Greta Magendantz, a third-year journalism and political science combined major, manages communications for Northeastern SDA. Magendantz said SDA was one of her first opportunities to get involved in gun control advocacy.

“I have never been involved with a gun sense organization before,” Magendantz said. “It was not really an opportunity that I had in high school. We just started SDA here at Northeastern, so I am really excited for the opportunities,” Magendantz said. “I got involved at Northeastern because I am passionate about gun sense legislation and making that a reality on the local level. In Massachusetts, we have it relatively good in terms of gun violence and gun violence legislation.” 

Members of SDA talk to students about voter registration. Many members of the organization have not had previous opportunities to get involved with gun control advocacy. (Ananya Kulkarni)

Chapters of SDA organize rallies and protests at state and local government centers to advocate for passing gun sense legislation. They have also attended events hosted by pro-gun organizations to protest their gatherings and push for less restrictions on gun sales. 

One chapter attended a National Shooting Sports Foundation event with ‘Welcome to the Gun Show’ stickers and posters that included QR codes with resources about Students Demand Action and lobbying for restrictions on firearms.

SDA chapters also advocate for gun restrictions at the federal level through protests in the capital, speaking with legislators, and helping to register people to vote while encouraging them to support gun-sense legislation.

Massachusetts has considerably more gun regulations than many other states. A license to carry or a firearms identification card is required in order to purchase and carry a gun. However, legally obtained and registered guns are allowed to be possessed with or without concealment. Massachusetts is also not a “stand your groundstate, meaning gun carriers do not have an automatic right to use deadly force against an intruder. The Massachusetts House passed a bill on October 18th that restricted firearms from certain public spaces, expands on the ‘red flag’ law that allows judges to order firearms removed from certain individuals, and also seeks to prevent the sale of ‘ghost guns’, which are privately made firearms that are untraceable.  

“I’m from Ohio, and gun violence is something that I have seen happen, especially because the gun laws there are really bad, so it has affected me,” said second-year marketing and political science combined major Miranda Kerr, who recently joined Northeastern SDA. “I have always really wanted to get involved but I didn’t have a lot of options, so I thought this club would be a good way to start doing that.” Students in Northeastern SDA are focusing on pushing local and national governments to enact gun control laws. Even though Massachusetts has strict firearm laws, students in SDA find it important to use their voice and advocate for all students. 

“Although we are a relatively safe state in terms of gun violence and our legislators are fully supportive of us and are protective of us in terms of enacting legislation, … we still have a lot of work to do,” Magendantz said. 

Grayson discussed some of the important steps the club felt were necessary for legislators to take in order to ensure the safety of Americans from gun violence.

“I think we really need strong universal background checks,” Grayson said. “I don’t think it is the end-all-be-all, but guns need to be monitored severely to make sure they are not getting in the wrong hands. There are states, such as Massachusetts, that have background checks on all gun sales, not just from licensed gun sellers.” 

Grayson has used founding and leading Northeastern’s chapter of Students Demand Action to give students on campus a voice in the gun violence debate, advocate for students and build a country where students do not live in fear of being gunned down in a classroom.

“Part of me feels really empowered using this organization to allow us to use our voices and advocate for the country we want to be in,” she said. “I want to live in a country where no one has to fear going to school, walking down the street, going to parades or a bar and fear that they are not going to make it out alive.”

About the Contributor
Ananya Kulkarni, Managing Editor
Ananya Kulkarni is a third-year political science and journalism major and is also pursuing a minor in graphic design. She is design editor of The News and has previously served as beat writer for the men’s and women’s rowing teams. Follow her on Instagram (@ananya_kulkarni_media) for updates!
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