I don't know about you, fellow resisters, but I'm fed up. I'm fed up with a society that doesn't care about the deaths of thousands of our friends and families at the hands of gun-toting psychos.
I'm fed up of getting text alerts about mass shootings in our schools, our theatres, concerts, clubs, airports and workplaces. This is not a safe or just society, if we cannot live in public without the fear of being murdered by a weapon of war. Doesn't our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness outweigh someone's right to own an assault weapon?
As a 17 year old, I was horrified when three of my own peers were murdered at once by a semiautomatic weapon after a high school graduation party in 1999, one month after Columbine. Their deaths should not be in vain. Their deaths, and the many deaths since then should not be forgotten. Since that day, I have taken a very clear and passionate stance against the rampant gun violence and obsession in our country.
I am now in my mid-30s, and I have known more people killed violently by guns, and I'm done. I'm done allowing this to continue without speaking up at every possible opportunity. I will do whatever I can to support efforts for better gun control.
For the first time, in a long time, I feel momentum in the right direction. The survivors (and victims) of the recent shooting in Parkland, Florida have reignited an important conversation. Not only have they brought this conversation to the forefront, these kids are showing more compassion, more strength and more common sense than most of our leaders and politicians. I feel a change in the wind. I feel a new conversation. Our kids are literally fighting for their lives now, and we need to support them.
If you're in the same boat, and you're fed up with the current situation, here are seven ways you can help support the kids from Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School, and all other victims and survivors of gun violence:
1. Have a Conscience
I know this one seems fairly obvious, but sadly, many politicians and gun-advocates have shown us all that they care more about their guns than they do children's lives, over and over and over. Enough is enough. We need to remind ourselves that nothing is more important than someone's life. There is no hobby, no sport and no legitimate reason for guns made for warfare to be on our streets, legally or illegally purchased.
Having a conscience is key to this debate, or nothing of value can be done. This is 100% a moral issue. You get to choose on which side of history you fall. If you're here and reading this right now, I have faith that you may be on the right side.
2. Listen to the Victims
If there is anyone who should be listened to within a debate about guns, it is those who have been most affected by the damage and horror of gun violence (and because you're not a toddler devoid of empathy, you won't need a note to remind you to "hear" them). Simply because someone considers him or herself a "responsible gun owner" doesn't mean that they are the authority on guns and what gun laws should be enacted. It doesn't even mean that they are, in fact, a "responsible gun owner." We all get a say in this, as we are all living in this society together.
We must take the time to understand the survivors' and the families of the victims' stories and the loss (or losses) they're experiencing. Every single one of the survivors is also a victim, and will live with this experience forever. They will need our help in this fight, and they will need our help in the future with their own wellbeing. Take a few minutes today to acquaint yourself with the reality of being a victim of gun violence.
Listen and get to know the stories of victims of gun violence here:
- Meet Emma Gonzalez, Parkland survivor
- See what the Sandy Hook survivors, victims and families are doing 5 years later
Who didn't make it at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School? Read their stories.
3. Do Not Support the NRA or Anyone Who Does
Politicians may think that they have the upper hand right now, but the reality is that they will be out of a job if we, as a force, vote them out. Today, vow to never support another politician supported by the NRA.
You may not even know if your local politicians have received money from the NRA. No problem. Politico put together a list to help you out, or you can text NRA to 50409 to get a list of your representatives who have and have not taken money from the NRA.
Now what? Find out who is running against these people in 2018 and 2020, and check out their opposing candidate. It's time to support candidates who take a firm stance for common sense gun control measures.
4. Join a Protest
Thanks to the incredible, brave kids from Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School, their activism and organization has led to nationwide student walkouts and a student-run March For Our Lives to take place on March 24 in Washington DC. Although it was put together by students from Parkland, anyone and everyone who believes that common sense gun control is an incredibly important topic is welcome to attend. Don't worry if you can't make it to DC, there will be sister marches all over the country.
5. Donate to Gun Control Activist Groups
If you've been wondering where you can donate to this cause, don't worry. Here are a few places your money would be well spent:
March For Our Lives
The official GoFundMe page for the March for Our Lives is all set up, and as of writing this, they've raised millions. This is a cause that is worth whatever you can put together to send them.
Everytown for Gun Safety
Everytown for Gun Safety is a movement of Americans working together to end gun violence and build safer communities. They're also the driving force behind Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and Mayors Against Illegal Guns
The Brady Campaign
The Brady Campaign was named for and started by President Ronald Reagan's assistant and WH Press Secretary James Brady, who was shot, permanently disabled, and later killed by his injuries in the attempted assassination of Reagan.
The mission of the Brady organization and its Million Mom March is to create a safer America by cutting gun deaths in half by 2025.
6. Encourage Your Kids to Join the Movement
Teaching your kids about civics is an important lesson. They should know their rights, the rights of everyone around them, and when it's time to speak up in the best interest of the greater good. Talk to your kids about gun violence. Let them talk to you about their concerns and answer their questions about gun violence. This is a conversation that we all need to be having, and if it's led by our own children, how can we ignore them?
Much like the amazing President Barack Obama says, we should get our children involved in these movements. They're the leaders of our future, and they're leading us in a direction that makes everyone safer. Like President Obama tweeted, we have been waiting and we have their backs.
Young people have helped lead all our great movements. How inspiring to see it again in so many smart, fearless students standing up for their right to be safe; marching and organizing to remake the world as it should be. We've been waiting for you. And we've got your backs.— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) February 22, 2018
7. Get to the Polls
It's all well and good for us to preach to each other about gun control, but it means nothing without action. We all have to show up at the polls, ready to vote for candidates who support gun control.
If you or someone you know isn't registered to vote, get registered as soon as possible. Do the research. Figure out who is running in your district. Canvass for great candidates. Drive someone to the polls.
If this last year has taught us anything, it's that we cannot allow outside forces to sway our votes, nor can we allow ourselves not showing up to leave us with the absolute worst options.
Get out there and make a difference. Thanks for getting involved.