How You Can Help End Gun Violence
If I had a dollar for every time someone said to me, “I’m thinking of you,” in the aftermath of yet another shooting tragedy that made the news, I would have way too many dollars. One is too many. As I stated to a friend who said this to me on social media after the recent mass shooting in Oxford, MI, I have become ambivalent to this phrase. On one hand, I effing hate it, and on another, I feel a sense of responsibility to give people ideas of what to do and how they can help. So here I am, offering advice on how YOU can help to make our country safer.
1. Become more politically active. I’m not just talking about voting or working elections. I’m talking about the grueling day-to-work of getting to know your legislators and attending local meetings, such as city council. No meeting is too small and no elected leader is insignificant. Ask your elected leaders how you can help THEM do their jobs. You might be surprised to know that we can actually educate our elected officials on things that are important to us.
2. Attend community meetings where decisions are being made and community leaders are present. You can do a simple online search for your city; you can look on social media; you can ask around at local places you go. Become an active, outspoken member of these meetings, and talk about why gun violence prevention is important to you and your family. The more we bring this issue to the forefront of people’s minds, the more support we will have to actually make an impact.
3. Talk to your school leaders. Don’t take no for an answer. From the teachers to the principal to the school superintendent, make it clear that gun safety MUST be a priority. Let them know that you don’t want your children subjected to active shooter drills, as they are proven to create more trauma.
4. When your kids are going over to other people’s houses, make sure you are asking the adults in the household if they have guns present. Don’t be afraid to have these conversations. Better to have them and prevent tragedies from happening. If the adults are not willing to discuss this with you, do NOT send your children there no matter how much they beg. These unintentional shootings we hear about in the news all too frequently are preventable with proper gun storage. Check out our website, www.besmartforkids.org, for more information about this.
5. Support community and hospital based violence intervention programs.
6. DON’T support organizations, companies, and stores who don’t recognize gun safety and especially those who negligently flout gun extremism. Support the ones that do here!
7. Talk to those friends and family members who are difficult. I’m not talking about Uncle Harry who sleeps with his guns and doesn’t give a shit about anyone else. I’m talking about those family members and friends who know in their heart of hearts that we have a gun violence problem in this country but perhaps also have strong ties to shooting ranges or hunting. Owning a gun and being a strong supporter of gun sense are NOT mutually exclusive. We have plenty of these people within our own organization, and other gun safety organizations do too. I would be happy to introduce you to them.
8. Check out Moms Demand Action and other organizations too. There are some wonderful gun safety organizations out there, and each one has a different platform and focus. Find the one that’s right for you.
9. Lift up the voices of the students who are making a difference in this movement. If it weren’t for them, we would not have made the progress that we have, and the NRA wouldn’t be as weak as they are. It was the brave students at Parkland who stood up to the gun industry and initiated the slow crumbling of the gun manufacturers and extremists.
10. Take care of yourself. I cannot stress this enough. This morning when I awoke at 5:30 AM, my initial thought was, “I want to listen to Glennon Doyle’s We Can Do Hard Things and work on my puzzle.” Then my mind shifted to the other things I should be doing, such as checking my e-mail, ordering holiday presents, and working on my book. I turned off that should voice and let myself enjoy my quiet time with my podcast and puzzle. It rejuvenated me and gave me the motivation I needed to write this blog. Always listen to your inner voice – it will tell you exactly what you need. If you ignore it for too long, you will burn out. Don’t let that happen because we need you.
This list is in no ways exhaustive. Please know that there are many other things out there you can do. I merely wanted to give you a sampling. There are so many resources available to you if you just look. Don’t let this moment pass you by. Let your anger, sadness, frustration, etc. guide you to act. Ask me any questions you have! Just please don’t tell me you don’t know where to start or what to do. You can start with number one or number ten in this list. Just do something, because griping about the problem never solved anything. We need more than thoughts and prayers; we need action.