You’re angry. You see that there was yet another school shooting. It feels like these incidents are happening more frequently and nobody is doing anything to stop them.
You’re scared. You send your children off to school with the knowledge that school can no longer be considered a safe place. You fear that no place – the shopping mall, the movie theater, church – is really safe anymore.
Maybe you’re convinced that guns are the problem. You believe that if we had stricter gun laws, these shooters wouldn’t be able to get their hands on AR-15s and they wouldn’t be able to inflict such horrible damage.
Maybe you’re convinced that it’s a mental health issue. If this country had a better support system for mental health issues, these shooters might receive the help and treatment they need, and wouldn’t commit such horrible acts.
Maybe it’s due to a failure on the part of our country’s law enforcement agencies for not properly identifying and stopping these threats. Maybe it’s due to a lack of security at schools. Maybe it’s all of these things, some of these things, or none of these things.
Regardless of what you think the cause of the problem is, the question I have is: What are you doing about it? I assume that we all want these shootings to stop, but are any of us actually doing anything to make it stop?
Are you waiting around for politicians to fix the problem? It’s been over five years since Sandy Hook, and Congress is still employing their patented “Thoughts and Prayers” strategy to prevent such tragedies. It doesn’t seem to be working very well.
Perhaps you’ve posted something on Facebook or Twitter. You’ve written about how angry you are, or you’ve shared an article that articulates your feelings on the subject. You may have even shared a clever meme that backs your point.
Let me guess what the reaction to your post was: Those who were in agreement showered you with likes and provided affirmative comments. Those who didn’t agree either ignored what you posted or started an unproductive argument that didn’t change anyone’s mind and may have actually caused both sides to become more entrenched in their positions.
Don’t feel too bad. I’m as guilty as anyone. I’ve engaged in many social media arguments that accomplished nothing but left me feeling self-righteous. I even wrote a blog post about it! Sure, the points I made are still valid, but so what? Nobody cares.
So here’s what I’m going to do, and I encourage everyone to do the same. Instead of making that comment on Facebook or responding to that tweet, use that time to do something productive: Visit the website for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.
The group is neither opposed to responsible gun ownership nor seeking to abolish the Second Amendment (although some detractors have made that accusation). The group’s goal is to reduce the number of gun-related deaths via better education, enacting sensible laws, and stricter enforcement of existing laws. Their site suggests a few ways you can get involved: Donating money, volunteering your time, and calling your representatives in Congress.
I’m pretty sure that calling Senator Chris Van Hollen’s office is going to accomplish more than arguing with Twitter user @Texas_GunsNGod:
When the government takes our guns, then they achieve total control over the citizens. TOTAL CONTROL!!!! That is why our founding fathers where smart enough to add the 2nd Amendment. If you don’t like living in a free country, then give your guns away. NOT ME! #ComeAndTakeIt #2A
— 🇺🇸TRUE TEXAN🇺🇸 (@Texas_GunsNGod) February 21, 2018
If you’d like another option, Everytown for Gun Safety is another group working towards ending the gun violence epidemic.
If you’re absolutely convinced that guns aren’t the problem, and that it’s more of a mental health issue, then I have a site for you as well: The Treatment Advocacy Center is seeking to improve the country’s mental health and criminal justice systems to make sure those with mental illness get the help they require and deserve.
To make sure I follow my own advice, I’ve decided to enact a “Brady Tax” on myself. For every post or comment I make on social media about guns, I will either donate a dollar to the Brady Campaign, or place a call to a Congressman to voice my feelings. Whenever I post something related to the subject on social media, I will share the link to the Brady site so that others might be encouraged to take similar actions.
It’s admittedly a small step, but if everyone who says they want to stop gun violence in America did a little more, then we might actually see real progress being made.
So who’s with me? Who’s ready to stop wasting time and start taking real action?