Gun Violence

Keeping Our Covenant with Children

March 31, 2023 | National

On Monday the nation paused, again, to mourn the tragic loss of three children to gun violence at Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee, alongside three adults who cared for them. Again, because according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at 19%, firearms are the leading cause of death for children in our country. Again, because according to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been more mass shootings than days in the year 2023.

On Tuesday in Washington, D.C., one of the staff leaders on CDF’s federal policy team shared with me how much the shooting disturbed her. She’s among the growing majority of Americans who remain, as the Rev. Dr. Martin King, Jr. would say, “creatively maladjusted,” refusing to accept these tragedies as the norm. In our afternoon conversation, we talked about triggers from our lived experiences, including the loss of my brother in a mass shooting when I was a teen. In a meeting on Wednesday, a leader from our organizing team who lives in Nashville, shared how the proximity of the events impacted her and neighbors.

CDF is devasted by the loss of children to guns and motivated to keep our covenant.

We are all shaken. Grieving. Traumatized. Processing. Our leaders are frustrated with the nation’s immoral choice of guns over children. Our team is even more perplexed by the political inaction by policymakers on Capitol Hill.

Through it all, we will be faithful to our promise to protect and provide for children and youth. Preventing gun violence has been a policy priority for Children’s Defense Fund for years. To keep our children safe, in this critical moment we renew our calls on Congress to:

  • Ban assault weapons;
  • Require universal background checks for the purchase of guns; and
  • Fund peace and violence prevention programs in local communities.

A covenant is a solemn commitment, an agreement which forms a relationship. Ours is embedded in our mission, vision, and values. It permeates our calls for leaders to #ProtectChildrenNotGuns.

The children killed by guns are the moral owners of our mission.

We owe these young people everything! So, as we call upon others to act, we renew our commitment as well. This summer, our CDF Freedom Schools® program will mobilize thousands of children and families across 30 states for health, healing, and hope to keep communities safe from gun violence, through our National Day of Social Action. On the Hill and in statehouses across the country, we will increase our policy advocacy and inform the conversation with the best data available. Children’s Defense Fund will continue to organize with young people, and community and faith leaders to keep playgrounds safe and schoolyards peaceful.


We hope you will join us on this moral journey. Let’s keep our covenant to care.