Americans are ten times more likely to be killed by guns than citizens of any other developed nation. Last year, we experienced nearly 13,000 gun deaths (36 per day) and 372 mass shootings (more than one per day). There are now actually more guns than people in America. The stats go on and on: Gun violence is a serious problem, and it’s so easy to feel helpless. But here are five simple things you can do today that make a difference.
1. Know the facts. It’s not enough to know that gun violence is a problem – you should know whom it affects. For example, African Americans are twice as likely to die from gun violence as whites. Fatal domestic violence against women is often linked to a gun in the house. Members of the LGBTQ community are disproportionately targeted by hate crimes (especially LGBTQ individuals of color). Guns also enable over 21,000 suicides a year.
2. Know who’s fighting the epidemic. There are a lot of great groups out there organizing Americans to end gun violence. Everytown and its partner campaign Moms Demand Action, the Brady Campaign and Gays Against Guns are grassroots community organizers. Evolve, a non-partisan group, focuses on practice instead of policy. Politicians like Gabby Giffords and Michael Bloomberg are also taking a stand.
3. Stop investing in gun violence. You, yes you, are a gun owner. If you have a standard investment portfolio or 401K, you’re financing a number of major weapons manufacturers (and our Lens will show you which ones). Gays Against Guns explains how the Chain of Death – manufacturers, lobbying groups like the NRA, lawmakers and investors – all help to fund the gun industry and therefore gun violence. They recently protested Blackrock, one of the biggest gun company shareholders. OpenInvest provides a weapons manufacturers screen, which makes it easy to divest from both weapons manufacturers and companies that profit from firearm and ammunitions sales.
4. Make your voice heard. You can make a call, sign a petition to support increased background checks, or help Moms Demand Action take action in your own community. You can tweet or post on Facebook with movement hashtags like #enough, #divesthate, #gunsensemajority and #unloadyour401k.
5. Vote. Did your representative vote for sensible regulations? If they didn’t, make sure you vote for someone who will in November.
Gun violence has somehow become normalized in America. In a speech this January, the President recounted how “hundreds of thousands of Americans have lost brothers and sisters, or buried their own children. Many have had to learn to live with a disability, or learned to live without the love of their life. There’s a lot of heartache.” However, as Obama points out: “There’s a lot of resilience. There’s a lot of strength.” Thanks to the strength of others, there are now clear channels that make it easy for you to help create change.