Essay contest open early in response to Sandy Hook shootings

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Physicians for Social Responsibility/Sacramento has announced its annual High School Scholarship Essay Contest, open to high school seniors in Sacramento and surrounding counties (Alpine, Amador, Calaveras, El Dorado, Nevada, Placer, San Joaquin, Solano, Sutter, Yolo and Yuba). The prompt for this year's contest is a position statement of the American Academy of Pediatrics, published in April 2000: "Firearm regulations, to include bans of handguns and assault weapons, are the most effective way to reduce firearm-related injuries.”

The PSR/Sacramento steering committee had decided Dec. 8 to use this prompt for the 2013 essay contest, just six days before the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in which 20 children and six adults were killed. PSR/Sacramento usually waits to open its essay contest until the beginning of the New Year, after students return from winter break.

“Like all Americans, we are heartsick over the Sandy Hook massacre, and we grieve for the victims and their families,” said PSR/Sacramento President Dr. Harry Wang, who is a child and adolescent psychiatrist. “We are opening the high school scholarship essay contest early this year to offer a constructive outlet for high school seniors to deal with their reactions to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting and to provide them with an opportunity to express their own thoughts about ways to stop the epidemic of gun violence in our country.”

PSR/Sacramento Vice President and Scholarship Chair Dr. Bill Durston, who is an emergency physician and former Marine Corps combat veteran and expert marksman, notes, “Our high school scholarship contest winners, who are tomorrow's leaders, have written and spoken eloquently on other topics in past years. We look forward to hearing their views on how our country can do a better job of protecting its children from gun violence.”

A total of $15,000 in scholarship money will be awarded to 12 students. Students may enter the contest by writing an essay of 500 words or fewer describing their views about the essay prompt. The deadline for contest entry is midnight Wednesday, March 13. Full contest details are available at For more information, email or call 955-6333.