According to the Children’s Defense Fund, since 1968 guns in America have killed more than 164,000 children. That’s the total passenger count of over 760 Boeing 737 airliners. And if scores of airplanes began falling from the sky, you’d think that the United States Congress—if not, United Airlines—would take a moment to review the blueprints.
The fact is, the American gun lobby has spent millions steering policymakers away from common sense gun reforms. Every consumer product, from teddy bears to cars, is subject to safety standards – guns are not. The NRA lobbied Congress in the ’90s to prohibit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from collecting good gun data. The guns and ammunition manufacturing industry has experienced record growth over the past decade, now generating more than $17 billion in annual revenues, up from $10 billion in 2008. Mother Jones estimates we’re all paying for this growth—through law enforcement, health care expenses, limited economic growth, and other costs—to the tune of $229 billion annually.
We’ve been losing too many lives and too much treasure to gun violence for far too long, but the tide is finally starting to turn—thanks to brave young people across the country who are standing up and speaking out against inaction.
One of the most effective actions we can all take is to use our purchasing power to pressure businesses to stop selling assault rifles or to quit supporting the NRA. Companies hate it when their bottom lines are impacted, making this a strategy that works—just ask these companies.
We can also ask ourselves how we might be contributing to a violence-obsessed culture, and demand policymakers—at every level—start putting the health and safety of their constituents above the interests of the gun lobby.
Here are 19 actions we all can take today and every day to reduce gun violence.
1. Don’t give our money to companies that support the NRA. Avoid these businesses that support the NRA with member benefits.
2. Let retailers know we won’t shop with them as long as they sell military-style weapons… Send a message to Bass Pro Shops, Cabela’s, Gander Outdoors and others telling them to yank assault rifles from their shelves.
4. Divest in guns. We can make sure our 401(k)s are free of blood money by avoiding these mutual funds.
5. Join the March for Our Lives on March 24th. Now in 500+ cities.
7. Sign up to receive action alerts from Everytown for Gun Safety. Stay up-to-date on common-sense reforms and advocacy opportunities.
8. Call our Senators and tell them the Manchin-Toomey bill deserves a vote. It’s a bipartisan common-sense bill that would expand background checks and save lives.
9. Follow the issue at the state level... It’s not just Congress that makes gun policy. The NRA made a concerted state-level effort following Sandy Hook to weaken gun safety laws. Yet a Republican-controlled Florida legislature just passed the state’s first substantial gun-safety law in 20 years. These days a lot more gets done in state capitols than in Washington.
10. … And at the local level too. We can let our school boards know guns in the classroom are not the answer. And tell our children’s teachers we’re fighting to arm them with additional resources, not guns.
11. Change the message. “Gun control” is a loaded phrase. More people get behind things like “common-sense gun safety”. Even the late conservative Justice Antonin Scalia called for this, saying, “…like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited.”
12. Cancel NRA memberships. The NRA is out of touch with its members, a majority of which want expanded background checks. If you joined back in the days before Wayne LaPierre brought his bat-shit crazy, now is a good time to say good-riddance.
13. Lock. Them. Up. Too many gun deaths are accidents that could have been prevented. Investing in gun locks keeps loved ones safe.
14. Keep bullets and guns separate. Kids (especially boys) will find guns in the home. Reduce the risk of curiosity becoming fatal by keeping the guns and ammo separate.
15. Or just get rid of your guns altogether. Like this guy did.
16. Ask our faith leaders to take a stand. The United Church of Christ’s gun violence prevention campaign displays shirts on church lawns with the names of children killed by guns in each community. We can ask our Pastor, Rabbi, Imam or other religious leaders to publicly raise the issue too.
17. Talk with our boys. The fact is, almost all mass shooters are male. This amazing op-ed, “The Boys Are Not Alright,” brilliantly articulates the need to start having a different societal conversation about masculinity and what it means to “be a man”.
18. Promote peace. In ways big and small, think of peace as the first and last option to resolving conflicts (most of us could probably start by curbing the aggressive reactions when we’re driving in heavy traffic…).
19. Vote. Decisions are made by those who show up. Vote for candidates calling for common-sense gun safety laws at every level.
Voting for candidates who aren’t in the pocket of the NRA is working.
Voting with our wallets to change business behavior is working.
Voting with our actions to create a more peaceful world is, over the long-term, working.
We’re starting to win. We have the power to keep the momentum going and to turn the tide against gun violence once and for all.
Co-Founder & Former Club President, DoneGood
Award-winning online communications director for Children’s Defense Fund, social impact campaign leader, Harvard Kennedy School graduate