This past weekend, there was yet another mass shooting in the United States — this time at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. The attack left 28 dead, roughly 4% of the tiny town’s total population. Another 20 were wounded in the assault. This marks the 307th mass shooting in 2017. That adds up to one per day. These are grim statistics, and can easily inspire a sense of despair and hopelessness. There is no simple solution to this problem, and no easy answers. But gun violence can be stopped, and you can take steps right away if you feel strongly about this issue (as we all should).
Here are just a few things you can do to make a difference when it comes to gun control and violence.
1. Call your representatives.
Act on a local level; call your senator, your governor, all the people in office who represent you. Tell them your fears and concerns regarding gun violence. Ask them what they intend to do, and make sure they know it’s an important issue to you. Not sure who to get in touch with? This handy form will help you find your senator’s contact info, and it even gives tips on talking points.
2. Donate to a worthy cause.
If you’re able, put your money to work and look into supporting an organization that fights gun violence. There are numerous excellent charities and non-profits out there advocating for stronger gun laws in this country. The Brady Campaign and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America are two.
3. Write a letter.
Speak out in a public forum by writing a letter to your local newspaper. The simple act of disseminating your own words can have a powerful impact. You can look up a variety of talking points, but in the end focus on being authentic. Explain your fears and concerns, and how gun violence affects the community as a whole. If your local paper publishes your op-ed, you could be a part of changing hearts and minds.
4. Go social.
Writing not your thing? You can always contact your elected officials through social media. Seek out their Facebook pages and leave a short comment. Tweet them. Be concise and direct. Social media has given us an enormously powerful tool to instantly connect with virtually anyone — including politicians. Reach out and start a public discourse on social media. Engage, ask questions, and advocate for change.
5. Get educated.
In this time of misinformation and “fake news,” learning the facts is more important than ever. How can you advocate against gun violence when you don’t have all the information? Block out an hour to read up on facts and statistics so you feel confident the next time you have a chance to potentially change somebody’s mind. The Gun Violence Archive is a great starting point.
Our hearts are heavy after this weekend’s tragedy, and after all the many senseless gun-related tragedies that occur daily. But always remember: you have a voice, and that voice gives you the power to help make change.