2017 is the deadliest year for mass shootings ever
Over the weekend, 26 people were killed when a man with a history of domestic violence opened fire on a church congregation in the small town of Sunderland Springs, Texas. And as per tradition, Republican American politicians came armed with thoughts and prayers in lieu of gun control laws and legislation. The President himself even blamed the situation not on one of guns, but of mental health, going on to make a “good guy with a gun” argument when asked about whether he intended to do anything about the trend of regular mass shootings in his country.
Because the thing is, these tragedies have become the new normal. In fact, the worst five mass shootings have occurred over the last five years, with the most recent having taken place in Las Vegas a little over a month ago, where 58 people were killed. Which can make you feel helpless, especially if you don’t live in America but can recognise this crisis not as one confined to the US borders, but as one indicative of a country in upheaval, helmed by a government that prioritises the power of the NRA over the safety of its own citizens.
So in the wake of one tragedy and before the next, here are some ways you can take action even if you may not have access to American reps or vote.
DONATE MONEY WHERE YOU CAN
Following the shooting in Las Vegas, LA Weekly put together a great list of six gun control organisations you can donate to and help keep going: Everytown, Moms Demand Action for Gun Control, The Brady Campaign, Americans For Responsible Solutions, Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, and the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence.
And of course, there are more across the country. So take time to look into which organisation aligns with your own compass and look into where their money’s been spent and what they’ve been able to achieve with it. Then throw down what you can to help keep the fight going. It may not seem like much (and it might sound like a cliche), but every little bit helps.
CONTACT YOUR OWN REPRESENTATIVES TO SEE WHERE THEY STAND ON GUN VIOLENCE
If you’re American, you know it’s time (and has been for years) to contact your congresspeople and senators to ensure they know where you stand on gun control. Specifically that you demand it and stricter gun laws, and that they, as politicians elected by you fight for it and the subsequent safety of American people.
But if you’re not American, you can contact your reps, too. You can call and email your MPs, local councillors and politicians and insist they share their own stance on gun control, on how comfortable they feel with increased access to automatic weapons, and how they’d respond to a crisis should one arise. Never underestimate the value of discourse; of engaging in important conversations about what you value, and what you demand. Politicians work for you, and if they’re policies don’t, then you elect them out.
LEND YOUR SUPPORT TO GROUPS WORKING TO STOP DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
Mass shooters tend have a common denominator: domestic violence. In fact, Every Town recently published the FBI findings that 54 per cent of shooters had exhibited violent behaviour towards partners or other family members, proving how necessary it is for us to begin having big conversations about domestic violence, about believing victims, and about what we’re doing to keep family members safe and help offenders seek the treatment they need.
And we do that by donating our money (and/or time) to local and national organisations helping survivors of domestic violence, and donating items like tampons, pads, toothbrushes, deodorant, and anything else listed on most shelters’ websites.
Plus, we can also engage our reps (there they are again) by asking what they’ve done and plan on doing in terms of assisting families broken up by domestic violence. Or whether they’re quick to downplay incidences of domestic violence compared to actively investing their time and our taxes in bankable rehabilitation programs for offenders. Remember: your politicians work for you, and they’re to be held accountable for great, terrible, or mediocre policies.
GIVE YOUR PLATFORM TO SOMEBODY WHO CAN SAY IT BETTER
Which doesn’t seem like a big deal, especially in a climate in which reactions are currency and tragedy tends to launch a race for the most socially-aware tweet. But the thing is, it’s not a question of you being silenced: if you’re outraged, scared, sad, whatever – you have a right to share how you feel. But you can also lend your platform to someone who can combine your outrage or sorrow with valuable political thought.
This is when letting someone who says it better say it instead. This is when you share pieces that offer perspectives you might not have gotten through your own experiences or biases, and when you round up nonprofits or organizations you hadn’t heard about before. This is when you share emergency contact information and information coming from the ground up (instead of sharing rumours or hearsay). The value in amplifying the voices of people who are not you cannot be underestimated. It’s what takes us from the echo chamber into a space that’s conducive to ushering in change. It’s what reminds us our own experiences are not universal.
LISTEN AND READ AND THEN LISTEN AND READ SOME MORE
It’s easy for some us to think we have it figured out. It’s easy to sit back and assume that we understand because from our seats outside of the U.S, we can gleam that gun violence stems from the power of the NRA and the defence of the second amendment. But centuries-old beliefs are more than the product of a gun-toting, billion-dollar organisation and the words of the Founding Fathers nearly 300 years ago. We need to think about things like collective fear and subsequent fear-mongering, about villainizing “others,” about the myth of male masculinity. We need to sit and listen to those who know more about this than us, who write and speak from the perspective of those not making the laws, of those who’ve been affected by gun violence, of those who’ve participated in it and why.
We can’t make change – not here, not there – without listening and educating ourselves. Doing the work includes that of the homework variety, too. And while that might seem pointless in the wake of bigger actions, remember that taking the time to listen and read and learn could be the armour you need to make a difference.
Image via Gays Against Guns