Americans are only half way through 2019 and there have already been 13 school shootings during this six-month period, according to Education Week. It's happening all across the nation, across all socioeconomic boundaries, and all racial divides. And while it's easy to feel hopeless in the face of such tragedy and senseless violence, there are things that can be done. Hopes and prayers are great, but action is better. And as National Gun Violence Awareness Day 2019 takes place on Friday, June 7, here are four powerful ways you can show your support.
While the statistics about gun deaths are devastating, there are some victories to be celebrated. For example, the U.S. House of Representatives passed Charleston Loophole legislation in February, closing a gap in the background check process increasing the review period from three to 10 days, according to CNN. And the decision reflects the majority of Americans want. In fact, according to The Action Network, a whopping 97 percent of Americans support stronger background checks to purchase guns.
In another win, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed "Red Flag" legislation, which restricts a person's access to firearms when they pose a significant risk to themselves or others, according to CNN. So, far, 15 other states, including Washington, D.C., have signed similar bills into law, according to USA Today.
But these small victories are all due to huge amounts of work, on the part of volunteers, activists, and more. And you can be part of this change — here's how.
1. Wear Orange
When 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton was shot and killed in Chicago, she was wearing orange, according to Wear Orange.
It was 2013 and the teen had just performed in President Barack Obama's second inaugural parade, according to NPR. Now, Pendleton's loved ones ask all those in favor of gun violence prevention to wear orange on National Gun Violence Awareness Day to speak out and stand up against gun violence.
Whether you're attending a rally in New York, or helping lawmakers in Los Angeles, orange is the official color of gun violence prevention activism. You can create your own wear orange image here for use on social media or buy orange gear from Everytown.org here.
2. Call Your Lawmakers
Wearing orange is a good start, but calling lawmakers is an even better next step. It's easy to post your concerns and political stances on social media, but putting the effort into making contact with those that can make change through life saving laws, is everything.
Calling Congress is actually pretty simple. The number for the Capitol switchboard is (202)-224-3121.
But before you call, make sure you know who your representative is. You can do this through a quick search on WhoIsMyRepresentative.com. It's important to know who is who, because calls are counted and actually make a difference.
One you ask to be patched through to your representative's office, you'll most likely be talking to an aide. Rest assured they will take a message, so be prepared with what you want to say. HuffPost has a great prepared dialogue here.
And when you're done calling your representative, call your senator too. Find yours here.
3. Exercise Your Right To Vote
Any election — no matter how big or how small — counts. So be sure to get to the polls. Exercise your right to vote, and get behind candidates and laws that actively strive for gun safety reform.
When election time rolls around, you can find your gun sense candidates by searching the Gun Sense Voter list here.
You can also find out what elected officials or candidates receive funding from the National Rifle Association by checking a comprehensive database created by TheTrace.org. The NRA wants guns affordable, accessible, and abundant. Follow the trail and vote these guys out of office, or keep them from taking it.
4. Start Meaningful Conversations
Let people know you are for a total revamp of current gun safety legislation and want this country to be safer for you, your family, and them. Remember to be respectful, always looking for common ground but respecting differences, the The National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation suggests.
But most importantly, keep up to date with current events. Everytown has a great newsroom with all of the most recent articles and media clips concerning gun law reform and gun safety. Watch, read, learn, digest.
It also wouldn't hurt to brush up on some statistics, too. For instance, according to Wear Orange, 100 Americans are killed each day at the hands of gun violence, access to a gun increases the risk of suicide three times, and firearms are the leading cause of death for American children and teens.
On National Gun Violence Awareness Day on June 7 and beyond, do your part and share these routes to change with others as well.