Gun Violence: Stop Praying Start Doing

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So, there’s been another mass shooting. Chances are you’re trying to make sense of it. You’ve read numerous posts asking “Why?” and “How.” And more than likely, you’ve seen a lot of people sending their thoughts and prayers.

But those haven’t been working, have they?

You’re asking your representatives to DO something because clearly something needs to change.

Maybe you know exactly what needs to change. Or maybe you’re feeling helpless and you want to help but aren’t sure we’re to start.

This post is for you. I’m offering up some “reasons” for these events that I have come across on social media and what I have told people who ask, “What can we do?”

Social Media Graphic with image of hand holding a sign that says Enough Is Enough Text overlay says Stop Praying Start Doing via blog post

But, but, but we need common sense gun laws!

  • Check out Giffords Law Center to see what the gun laws in your state are. I was surprised at some of the laws in Virginia. America is only as safe as the state with the weakest laws. Knowing what your state’s laws are can help you discuss what changes you’d like to see in your community.
  • Join Moms Demand Action. It’s not just for moms and they aren’t going after all your guns. Many of their volunteers are gun owners themselves; they just believe in responsible gun ownership. Volunteering usually costs nothing but your time. At the moment the most I can do is share posts on social media. But they also hold training so you can make calls, write postcards, man tables at events, and even talk to your family and friends about guns in the home.
  • Support and vote for gun sense candidates. Laws won’t change unless the majority of us vote in people who understand gun violence can be preventable and want to make it happen. The good news is that the majority of Americans want common sense gun laws passed, but we keep failing to vote for people who want the same.
  • Donate to or Volunteer with the Sandy Hook Promise Foundation, which strives to create a culture change that prevents violence and other harmful acts that hurt children through their evidence-informed Know the Signs programs. 
  • Write/call your representatives and let them know what legislation you support and would like to see them support. Follow them on social media and tag/call them out if appropriate. (Unsure who represents you? Check here.)

But, but, but it’s a mental health problem!

Mental health in America sucks. There’s a stigma. There’s judgment. There’s a lack of awareness. There’s a lack of knowledge among the medical field. There’s a lack of therapists in rural areas. Medications are expensive, and it can take trial and error to find the right ones/combination. 

Being a mental health advocate, I could go on.

Check out these mental health organizations and learn how to get involved to normalize mental illnesses and make getting help easier for all:

But, but, but it’s a veteran problem!

Our troops deserve so much more than lip service on Armed Services and Veterans Day and 10% discounts at various businesses. Treating them like the heroes they are goes well beyond that. It includes acknowledging trauma and caring for them when they get home from a mission. Many times, this circles back to mental health crisis, so see above.

According to Veterans for Gun Reform:

Every day, eight children and teens are unintentionally injured or killed in acts of family fire. And easy access to guns is killing those within our veteran community as well. On average, 17 to 20 veterans die by suicide every day, and approximately two-thirds of them do so by firearm.

You know where I am going with this, right?

  • Volunteer to be part of the solution to prevent these deaths.
  • Write/call your representatives and let them know what legislation you support and would like to see them support. Follow them on social media and tag/call them out if appropriate. (Unsure who represents you? Check here.)

Cartoon Fists of Shades of Brown with text overlay that says Real Change Takes a Community via blog post Gun Violence: Stop Praying Start Doing

But, but, but it’s a healthcare problem!

Gun violence IS a healthcare issue and various groups have been telling us that for years. It’s a public health issue that has been labeled an epidemic in the United States.

Be aware of which legislators want to roll back the Affordable Care Act (aka ACA aka Obamacare). Doing so will go back to the “good old days” when you could be denied coverage for things like depression and anxiety (this includes postpartum depression, which can be temporary with the correct treatment). And even if you weren’t denied, insurance companies could limit your coverage. 

  • Don’t vote for anyone who wants to take away a person’s healthcare. 
  • Write/call your representatives and let them know what legislation you support and would like to see them support. Follow them on social media and tag/call them out if appropriate. (Unsure who represents you? Check here.)

But, but, but it’s a bullying problem in our schools!

  • Get on the PTA/PTO and go to those meetings.
  • Volunteer in your child’s school.
  • Attend school board meetings.
  • Attend teacher conferences, even if your child is doing well (I always ask about their emotional/social wellbeing; that matters more to me than if they’re testing well)
  • Pay attention to how you’re behaving. Children model the behavior they see and live with, and kid bullies can turn into adult ones.
  • If teachers are coming to you and suggesting or hinting there is a problem (this also goes for preschool-aged kids!!) you need to take a deep breath then sit down and talk with them. Ask for resources to help your child and follow through.
  • If you notice any changes in our child, don’t be ashamed to seek out the school’s counselor or a children’s therapist.

But, But, But now’s not the time to talk about this!

We can’t even go a week between massacres. At the rate we’re at, we’ll never discuss it.

Today was too late. The time is NOW! 

But. But. But. But. Butbutbutbutbut…

We can go round and round on what the “real” cause of gun violence in America is. But it’s really all of these things, and more (toxic masculinity, white supremacy and racism play big roles as well). It all needs to be addressed. It all needs to be fixed. If you feel one thing is the driving force, start donating and volunteering to fix that one thing. Start advocating to make that one thing better.

We can no longer offer up thoughts and prayers to God, the Universe, or grieving communities. If that’s all you’re doing, YOU. ARE. NOT. HELPING.

YOU are part of the problem.

And I suggest reflecting on “….Faith without works is dead…” (James 2:26).

Graphic with words Gun Violence Prevention Stop Praying Start Doing via

Honor gun violence victims with action.

I’m pretty sure Jesus would. Save your children, grandchildren, friends and family with action. Donate. Volunteer. Make your voice heard. Register to vote and vote in every election. Don’t be afraid to put country over party and begin voting for candidates that are willing to work with you to end this public health crisis and keep YOU alive.

Do something.

And I don’t mean pray or do push ups.

Write/call/tweet/message your representatives. Even if you know they agree with you; they are in a position to introduce, vote, and pass legislation. In other words, they are in a position to prioritize gun violence prevention and make changes in a shorter amount of time. Remind them you’re paying attention. Which reminds me: If you live in an area that doesn’t have many gun-sense candidates, or are frustrated with inaction by those who claim to be, Run For Something and become one yourself!

Making America a safe place to learn, work, and play takes all of us working together to achieve that goal. One person can plant the seeds, but it takes all of us to create changes. It’s past time to start demanding better of your neighbors and people you’ve voted to represent you.

Enough is enough. It’s time to get to work.

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