3 Simple Steps Anyone can Take to Help Eliminate Gun Violence
To say that gun violence in the United States has reached crisis proportions is an understatement. The country suffered one of its goriest weekends ever throughout Aug. 3-4 when in less than 24 hours, two mass shootings in two different states left at least 29 people dead and 60 wounded. Nine victims died in Dayton, OH and 20 died in El Paso, TX. At the very same time, at least 7 people were killed and 48 were wounded by separate incidents of gun violence in Chicago, IL. The gun violence throughout this weekend comes on the heels of the Jul 28th mass shooting in Gilroy, CA which killed 4 people and wounded 13 others. There’s no question that gun violence is difficult to debate, but a solution has to be found soon because inaction is only allowing things to get worse. The rate of mass shootings has increased dramatically from the levels experienced in the 1980s and 1990s. In the last seven years alone, 350 lives have been lost to mass shootings in the United States.
Something Needs to Change
Most people want a clear-cut answer to this problem. They want to be able to blame one specific element as the root cause of gun violence, assuming that having a single scapegoat will make the predicament easier to fix. But the truth is, gun violence is complex. It doesn’t have just one root cause. Rather, it’s the outcome of a cocktail of ignored problems and lapses in judgment. As complicated as gun violence may be, society no longer has the luxury of standing by while indifference allows innocent lives to get cut short in plain sight. Something needs to be done to address the fact that tens of thousands of people are either injured or killed every year because of preventable gun violence. Whether or not you are a proponent of the constitutional right to bear arms, it’s time to put aside hardline political positions and make compromises in order to help our communities be safer. Shootings are no longer crimes that only happen in bad neighborhoods or dark alleyways. They happen in schools and places of worship. They happen at concerts and bars. If people no longer have the freedom to feel safe at places like these, then society is broken.
Nobody expects you to have all the answers to the pandemic of gun violence, but here are some steps that would make a good start to solving this horrific problem:
- Alert Your Elected Officials – Congress has the means and opportunity to implement transformational change in gun safety laws. You can provide the motive. Making a phone call or writing to your elected officials lets them know that this is an urgent issue, and it can incentivize them to explore ways in which to protect everyone from gun violence.
- Support Gun Safety Groups/Community Leaders – Not everyone is standing by while gun violence claims lives. There are numerous existing organizations and community leaders who work every day to keep neighborhoods safe from guns. Do some research on effective groups you can support, and enquire about how to help. You can opt to donate funds, or you can volunteer a helping hand personally. It may surprise you how much of a difference you can make by taking the time to get involved in your own community.
- Depoliticize the Gun Safety Debate – Thanks to years of aggressive lobbying by special interest groups, the debate on gun safety has turned into a partisan irrational screaming match. Considering the fact that mass shooters don’t pause to ask victims about politics before pulling the trigger, you shouldn’t be looking for solutions based on the political bias as well. If you hear about a sensible solution – support it, no matter where it comes from. If you have to express your own opinions, keep them apolitical. Civility will do more to fix this mess than stubborn grandstanding.
Safety isn’t a privilege, it’s a human right. For that matter, it’s a human right that should be guaranteed to everyone regardless of politics. The more people react to mass shootings with skepticism apathy or conspiracy, the more we normalize what should be regarded by everyone as a heinous atrocity. It’s time to stop avoiding the menace of gun violence, and start coming up with lasting solutions to eliminate it. The only thing preventing this is our own willingness to try.