School shootings: Student puts QR code on her graduation hat as tribute to victims

Gina Warren Image copyright Gina Warren

Gina Warren graduates from her Ohio high school this weekend, but she's not just attending to enjoy the ceremony.

She'll be making a statement about gun violence in America, by wearing a graduation cap with a QR code on it - which sends people to a website listing all the students in the US who've been killed by gun violence.

"I graduated. These high school students couldn't," says the site.

A tweet about it has been seen almost four million times on Twitter.

"It got a lot of attention - which I wasn't quite expecting," 18-year-old Gina tells Radio 1 Newsbeat.

She says some people have criticised what she's doing, saying that a school graduation is "not the appropriate time" to make a statement like this, but that most responses have been supportive.

"I'm not trying to push any agenda, I'm just trying to send a message because looking at that list, there's obviously a problem," she says.

"My message is that no matter what you think or how you vote, you need to speak up to make the country safer."

So far this year, more than 5,000 people have been killed by gun violence in America. 124 of those were in mass shootings.

"Too many people are dying"

Gina says she believes there needs to be a change in laws in America to protect students from gun crime.

"I don't really like to get political but I really do think there needs to be stricter gun rules," she says.

"The list is way too long. There are too many people dying so yes, I do think that there needs to be more laws in place."

Image copyright Gina Warren
Image caption Gina will be wearing the cap to her graduation ceremony

Gina adds that she wants more action from people in power when a mass shooting takes place than "thoughts and prayers".

She says her silent protest was part-inspired by the frustration she saw in the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where 17 students and staff were murdered in 2018.

Earlier this month, 18-year-old Kendrick Castillo died in an attack on his high school in Colorado.

But there are still many people in America, including many Republicans, who say extra restrictions would not have stopped many of the recent mass shootings - and think measures like arming teachers would be more successful.

"You can't just wait for change to happen"

Gina says she wanted to reach as many people as possible with her graduation cap and while she didn't expect the response she's had, it's important to keep the conversation going.

"I did put on my cap 'speak up, vote and protect our students' and that's what I want," she says.

"You can't just sit around and wait for change, you do have to fight for it. It's not going to just come to you."

Follow Newsbeat on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Listen to Newsbeat live at 12:45 and 17:45 weekdays - or listen back here.

More on this story