Gilroy, El Paso and Dayton: The world watched in horror as devastating mass shootings took place in these three cities over a mere one-week span. And these are only the most recent mass shootings; 252 other devastating mass shootings took place in the United States this year alone, according to Gun Violence Archive. That’s more mass shootings than days in 2019. While advocates and lawmakers fight for stronger, stricter gun-control laws, how can the rest of us fight for gun control? We have some ideas.
Support, volunteer and/or donate to gun-control organizations
Plenty of national organizations, many of which have local chapters, are working to prevent gun violence.
Nearly six million people have joined Everytown for Gun Safety, an organization committed to raising awareness about gun violence, mobilizing grassroots supporters and, ultimately, saving lives. In addition to accepting donations, the organization hosts both national and local campaigns and chapters where likeminded individuals can help pass laws and implement policies, from Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense and Students Demand Action advocate groups to the Pass the Violence Against Women Act.
My heart is hopeful for the city of #ElPaso. @MomsDemand volunteers, including local leader, Melinda were a part of a vigil honoring those who lost their lives & those affected by yesterday's shooting. Continue to #KeepGoing & #HonorWithAction @Everytown @shannonrwatts pic.twitter.com/kRbxf39wJL
— Heather Nicole (@ButterSausages) August 5, 2019
The Brady Campaign‘s mission is to reduce gun violence 25 percent by 2025. The organization is not only committed to educating the public, but it also published a thorough, comprehensive report on how it plans to prevent gun violence. The Brady Campaign encourages people to take action and use their voice in three ways: demand a ban on assault weapons and tell Congress to expand background checks and fund research on gun violence.
Founded by former Rep. Gabby Giffords and her husband Mark Kelly, Giffords has helped pass more than 290 new gun safety laws in 45 states and Washington D.C. And the organization was able to do so with the help of people who have had the courage to speak up. Those interested in joining the organization can do so via Giffords’ three national coalitions — Giffords Veterans Coalition, Giffords Law Enforcement Coalition and Giffords Women’s Coalition — or the organization’s eight state-based coalitions, including Arizona, Delaware, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon and Virginia. Giffords also encourages people to call the Senate to push for background checks.
States United to Prevent Gun Violence has 32 state group affiliates committed to reducing gun violence. Donations to the organization support independent and successful state-based gun violence prevention groups. “Through cooperative efforts with our 32 state groups we are working to build healthy communities by reducing gun death and injury through stronger laws, community education and grassroots action,” the website states.
The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (CSGV) states it “seeks to secure freedom from gun violence through research, strategic engagement and effective policy advocacy.” To get involved with CSGV, the organization is seeking donations.
Pick up the phone
TAKE ACTION: The House of Representatives passed a bill to require background checks on all gun sales. Now, the Senate must act.
— Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) August 3, 2019
Your voice is a powerful tool, but how do you use it effectively? Joining any of the aforementioned groups is a great first step, as partnering with like-minded individuals will not only help educate you on what needs to be done but also show you how to take action. Whether you’re participating in a demonstration or picking up the phone and calling elected officials, it’s important to let Congress know what’s important to you.
Doing so is easy, too: Find out who your senators and representatives are, call their office directly (Senate contact information here and House here), and tell the legislative assistant who picks up what issue you’re calling about. Be clear and to-the-point, and if they ask if you need a response, tell them you don’t need it.
Use social media as a tool for change
On Sunday, activists and Democrats took to Twitter to call on Congress to react to the El Paso and Dayton mass shootings with immediate legislation, particularly to take action on the gun control bill that would require background checks for all gun buyers.
“The Senate should come back from recess and vote on laws we know save lives,” said Shannon Watts, founder of @MomsDemand. “If Congress continues to sit on its hands, we‘ll work even harder to have a gun-sense majority in Congress and a president who will do the right thing.” https://t.co/YJvbo0VVUS
— Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) August 5, 2019
“The Senate should come back from recess and immediately vote on laws that we know work and save lives,” said Shannon Watts, the founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. “If Congress continues to sit on its hands, then we will work even harder to make sure that we have a gun-sense majority in Congress and a president who will do the right thing.”
Advocacy group Guns Down America, which was formed in 2016 shortly after the Pulse shooting, supports immediate action; the group has a petition on its website demanding an emergency Senate session on gun reform that people can sign right now.
In addition, those who want to lend their voice can also take to Twitter to tweet at politicians and businesses, like Walmart, to press them to act on gun control. For example, Igor Volsky, founder of the group Guns Down America told MSNBC: “Walmart is such a major player … that if they really decided to lean into this issue we could see some real change. We should all call on Walmart to do that.’’ Though Walmart responded, saying that it will not stop selling guns, despite gun control advocates calling on the store to do so, that doesn’t mean we should pull back on putting pressure on them.
Organize your own demonstration
The March for Our Lives movement in 2018 — following the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida — was a student-led demonstration in support of legislation to prevent gun violence. It was such a success, it became the largest single-day protest against gun violence in history. As March for Our Lives toured the country, they also registered over 50,000 new voters.
Organizing your own demonstration is an impactful way to take action and make your voice heard. The right to assemble is in the First Amendment, after all. Ana Breton, who planned the pro-immigrant “La Marcha de Mayo” rally in New York City in May 2017, wrote an informative feature on Teen Vogue detailing exactly how she did it — and how you can, too.
Voting for the candidates who align with your beliefs and interests is an important, powerful action to take. If you aren’t registered to vote, do so on Vote.gov.