This post last updated August, 2019
When we first wrote this post in 2015, Kristen and I had each gone to bed distraught, waking up no less unsettled after the news about two mass shootings in San Bernardino and Savannah — the 354th and 355th in the US in 2015 alone.
November 6, 2017, the day after 26 people were murdered in a Texas church, and 36 days after more than 500 people were gunned down in Las Vegas, we updated the post.
Then again in 2018 after Parkland.
And now, after the domestic terrorism incidents in El Paso and Toledo — less than 12 hours apart — here we are again.
When these things happen — as they continue to do — we alternate between outrage and grief, wondering just kind of world we are raising our children in right now. Especially when in an average year, more than 17,000 US children a year are injured or killed as a result of guns, and nearly 115,000 Americans as a whole.
As far as we’re concerned, even one is one too many.
While this is not a political site per se, we have never shied away from sharing the causes, concerns and values that are dear to us personally. In fact, our values are what our network was founded on when Kristen and I first got together back in 2006.
And so, after much discussion, we decided we would be remiss if we didn’t talk about unnecessary gun violence today, and what we can do about it.
(Crying Dove image via unicorn baby, created to commemorate the children of Sandy Hook, used with permission.)
We’ve see so so many of our readers on social media sharing feelings of hopelessness, and asking just what can be done — if anything at all. And so we felt it was important to share a few organizations advocating for common sense changes to legislation.
When we say common sense changes, we’re talking about policies like:
-Mandatory background checks for all gun purchases, universally, across all 50 states.
-Keeping guns out of the hands of those with records including a history of domestic abuse in part through red flag laws/extreme risk laws.
-Closing loopholes that currently allow individuals on the terrorist watch list to purchase guns.
-Closing the gun show loophole.
-Strengthening concealed carry laws and regulations on silencers
-Keeping guns stored more safely to prevent family fire
-Establishing insurance for gun owners, as well as ammo regulation and limits
-Banning high-capacity magazines, some of which can hold up to 100 rounds of ammunition
-Reinstating federal funding for gun violence research through the CDC, and allowing it to be treated as the public safety issue that it is — a measure supported by more than140 medical organizations, representing more than one million American health professionals.
Also, we need to take a hard look at why civilians need unfettered access to military-style assault weapons and high-ammunition clips.
We think these measures make good, common sense. They are research-based, and data-driven solutions.
A recent Pew Research Center poll about gun laws indicates that a vast majority of Americans support these initiatives. Gun safety is not a partisan issue. Even the AAP is getting involved in a letter to congress, calling firearm-associated death and disability now “a major public health threat to American children.”
So if you’re feeling hopeless, please don’t.
Take look at the work of these organizations and find strength in a likeminded community. Not all of them may be right for you to support, but perhaps one is.
Also, we always remind you to look for the helpers. But you’re an adult. It’s not enough. You need to find the helpers, support them, give money, give time.
Be the helper.
Image: @Marchforourlives DC chapter
Organizations Doing Impactful Work to Reduce Gun Violence
Brady United (Formerly, The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence) was started by Sarah Brady and the late James Brady, former press secretary to Ronald Reagan, who was seriously wounded in an assassination attempt on the President. Their aim is to reduce US gun violence 25% by 2025, with specific campaign initiatives including educating responsible gun owners about safety at home, expanding background checks, ending family fire, closing unregulated online gun purchases, and mobilizing young people in the fight against gun violence.
Giffords Courage (formerly Americans for Responsible Solutions) was founded by Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and her husband, retired Navy Captain and astronaut Mark Kelly. They work to reduce gun violence and support lawmakers who support responsible policies through national coalitions made up of an impressive list of veterans, law enforcement officers, faith leaders, educators, parents, and responsible gun owners. They are
Everytown for Gun Safety is a union of the bipartisan organization Mayors Against Illegal Guns (co-founded by former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former Boston Mayor Thomas Menino) plus Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a nonpartisan group mobilizing mothers at the community level. They’re a vocal presence on social media (as are @momsdemand) and have had enormous impact in the fight for gun reform in a short period of time.
Strengthen background checks for gun purchases by texting CHECKS to 644-33 | Moms Demand
Moms Demand Action deserves their own recognition since we first wrote this post. Founded by powerhouse (and mom of five) Shannon Watts, there is now a chapter representing this grassroots movement for more public safety measures in all 50 states. They have been incredibly impactful at changing law at the local and state levels, with focuses on issues like responsible gun storage, disarming domestic abusers, keeping schools safer, and updating background checks. They have an excellent resource center for more info on their site.
Students Demand Action is another offshoot of Everytown, engaging young activists to help end gun violence in our communities. With our own children growing up in the midst of a gun violence crisis, they encourage students to get involved by organizing and starting chapters in their own schools, universities, and community centers.
March for Our Lives (above) was founded in the days after the shooting in Parkland, FL, by the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. They’re activating young people to advocate for common sense gun reform in part by holding voter registration drives and supporting gun-sense candidates. They are also working to fund gun violence research and intervention programs, eliminating the ATF’s oversight restrictions, disarming domestic abusers, pushing for universal background checks, advocating for safe gun storage and mandatory theft reporting and more.
The Newtown Foundation was founded in the wake of Sandy Hook, to provide comfort, education, scholarship, support and resources to those impacted by gun violence in America. Their goal is to help all American communities move forward together to create a positive cultural change towards a more peaceful, less violent future. Every year since 2013, they have have sponsored national vigils and remembrance events, including the National Vigil for All Victims of Gun Violence
MomsRising amplifies mothers’ and family voices on issues that affect families, including working toward common sense gun safety reform through legislation. Of particular focus: banning military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.
The Trace This is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit journalism startup dedicated to shining a light on America’s gun violence crisis. They focus on the communities most impacted, report on possible fixes, and collaborate with other publications, creating content like this interactive atlas of American gun violence with data gathered from Gun Violence Archive
Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence is a faith-based, interdenominational group supporting specific legislation to increase criminal background checks, eliminate high-capacity weapons, and criminalize gun trafficking on the federal level. They are not a non-profit, so they are not asking for support. They are just out there doing the work on a grassroots level.
What else you can do
Doing something always makes us feel better than doing nothing. (And by the way, doing nothing is not working to help stem this epidemic.)
–Start with he US Congress and Senate: This link takes you to the contact info for all federal, state, and local elected officials. These are all individuals who have sworn an oath to represent your interests, and you have the right to tell them what those are. You can also visit this call your Senator webpage, type in your name, number and zip code, and your phone will connect automatically. Or Text “enough” to 877-877 for an automatic connection.
–Here’s what to say when you contact your member of congress — you can even use an app, or your own texting app when you register with Resistbot.
–Please visit the Action Plan for Ending Gun Violence, a Google Doc created by our friends at Feed Our Democracy. You’ll find a list of 10 actions you can take to prevent gun violence, plus handy fact lists, links and resources, organizations to follow on social media, and more.
This matters to us
We have military members, hunters and gun owners in our families too. We understand the complexity of the issue. We are not posting to start comment fights or encourage trolling. (In fact, trolls are not welcome here, sorry!)
We are moms who care about kids and their well-being. Over the years, we’ve discussed everything from crib safety to food safety to car seat safety to ways to eliminate preventable childhood deaths from diseases like polio with vaccinations — for which so many of you showed your amazing support with donations and social shares.
We hope with those same big hearts of yours, you can also consider ways to eliminate preventable firearm deaths in this country.
We know that this is a site that many readers visit as a way to escape the horrible news of the day. Self-preservation is absolutely understandable; if you would rather look at our gift recommendations, play a game of Candy Crush, or binge watch Netflix, then by all means do what you have to do. But after you’ve t taken a break, we certainly hope you’ll get back to fighting for a safer world for us all.
Thanks for understanding our need to share this.
-Liz + Kristen
Thank you for putting these resources in one place.
Thank you for this. I too have felt so hopeless, but this is something I can do to make changes.
Another step folks can take is to write to their legislators to request that they lift the ban on research into gun violence. The Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health have had their hands tied by the Dickey amendment for 20 years. Consequently, researchers have rarely even included gun violence as an outcome when studying other topics, let alone launching studies to actually try to understand and prevent these tragedies. I think we can all agree that the killing needs to stop. Learning about how and why it happens will make us better equipped to identify the things that predict gun violence, which will improve our ability to prevent it. What can we do? Well, the fact of the matter is that we don’t just don’t know yet. But we can certainly take steps to start figuring it out.
I can’t thank you enough for consolidating this information for your readers! I’m a grandmother and am so grateful for your caring.
Thank you Anne, we’re grateful for your caring too.
Let me debunk the “gun deaths are an epidemic in the USA” myth
There are an estimated 357 million guns(1), and 310 million citizens with one in three owning a firearm (2). Making 103.3 Million gun owners in the USA. According to CNN there are 33,636 gun related deaths (3), of which nearly 60% of all of them were suicide (4). This leaves us with 13,455 (rounded up) gun violence related deaths. Which in a population of 310 million equates to killing 0.0043403% of the US population in 2015.
But we also forgot to mention 48.9% of all Violent Crime is Gang Related (5). However 80% of all gun related homicide is gang related (6). However, you are more likely to die driving your car every day (7). In fact 251,000 people die each year from Medical Malpractice just seeing their doctor (8). In addition, 98% of mass shootings occur in a gun free zone where you legally can not carry a firearm (9). So from what we can tell is, avoid bad areas, and gang related activity, you should live an entire life free of lead made holes.
I’d like to point out to our readers that crimereasearch. org is a pro-gun website founded by gun advocates, with a board of directors that includes Ted Nugent and Sheriff David Clarke. Their goal is to sell more guns, and therefore I discount their conclusions.
A better group to consider is the non-partisan Doctors for America in addition to the sources here.
I’d also like to say that on a personal level, I’m really disturbed that there’s an attempt to minimize the impact of gun fatalities in this country, especially when the vast majority of Americans, including gun owners, want common sense legislation with a proven impact on safety and public health.
Do you know how many children died in fires before we started putting chemicals in pajamas by law? Not many. How many children get a finger pinched in a stroller before that stroller is recalled? Not many. How many people get sick from lettuce before we recall all lettuce and start looking at how to avoid that happening again? Not many.
But here we are looking at tens of thousands of actual preventable deaths — 46 children and teens shot EACH DAY — and trying to argue that we shouldn’t do a thing to fix the problem? I just can’t buy that.
“Stay away from bad areas” is not a solution. It is a privilege for those of us who have the means to live elsewhere, and it is not nearly an answer to a huge problem.
It also implies that lives taken by gang violence, domestic violence, or suicide are somehow less important than others, and not worthy of consideration in the same way as mass shooting victims. A child shot in gang violence or a mother shot by an abusive husband does not deserve any less consideration than a student shot in their high school.
If you look at the total number of mass shootings since Sandy Hook alone, in which four or more people were murdered, there have been at least 1,607 mass shootings, with at least 1,846 people killed and 6,459 wounded. Every one of those 1,846 people was a parent, a sibling, a spouse, or a friend to someone.
When there are fewer guns, there are fewer suicides. This is proven over and over again. When there are fewer guns there are fewer domestic homicides. There are nearly 1000 domestic homicides a year caused by firearms, and yet we’re not passing laws to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers.
The US has the most homicides per million people — that’s 6 times more than Canada, nearly 16 times more than Germany. That’s unacceptable.
Of course all of this indicates a public health epidemic, but congress, with support of millions from the gun lobby, has forbade the CDC being able to research and report on the impacts of gun control on death and injury since 1996. That’s as unconscionable as the corn refinery lobbyists paying to hide facts about the impacts of HFCS on our health.
More than 100 medical and public health groups, including the AMA have urged Congress to end the ban on gun violence research. Even the current HHC Secretary supports researching gun violence as a public health epidemic
Mass killings in the US are most often carried out with handguns, most often legally obtained. The solution to that: creating laws that will increase public safety.
Comparing cars (used for purposes other than killing) to guns (designed specifically for killing) is a logical fallacy, but since you brought it up, let’s discuss how auto fatalities have decreased over the years: Through the implementation of safety standards like airbags and ALB technology on the manufacturing end; then requiring drivers tests, requiring insurance, lowering speed limits, cracking down on drunk driving, and passing seat belt laws on the legislative end. These common sense changes have saved in the range of 17,000 American lives a year.
So call it an epidemic or not — it doesn’t make the problem any less of a moral failing, and any less worthy of implementing solutions that can save thousands of lives.
When we look cancer rates in America, we don’t blame the victims, and we certainly don’t say, “well just say away from inner cities or living near power plants and you’ll be fine!” We do research, we institute protections, we ban products that cause cancer, we support victims and their families, we push for more prevention, and we save as many lives as we can. That’s who we are.
Thank you for so thoroughly and thoughtfully rebutting the arguments of Carrie G. that were sourced by less than unbiased or truthful sources, that would victim blame instead of reaching for real solutions and that reek of privilege.
I also appreciate you consolidating the info for groups that may help us to Action. I have long been a MomsRising member and I am so grateful for them (and for you) for elevating the discussion and amplifying the voices of those who need to be heard so that we can make a better future for our kids.
Thank you, Erinkate. Although some of the links actually are worth clicking, but not for the reasons she’s leading you believe. The CNN link, for example (3) includes the following:
“the raw numbers of gun violence paint a chilling picture of America’s intimate relationship with firearms.”
“U.S. leads world in guns per capita”
“In the U.S., guns are used in homicides more often than in many other countries”
“U.S. gun violence kills significantly more people than terrorism — even factoring in 9/11”
“Nearly 70% of homicides were committed with firearms from 2007 to 2011”
“Firearm deaths among leading causes of death”
YES. Thank you. I joined Moms Demand in the aftermath of Sandy Hook and I can tell you that there is solace in working together to end gun violence.
Considering that most active shooters come from broken homes, it seems like the best way to help reduce gun violence in this country is to raise children in loving, stable homes… something all of us moms can do for our kids!
Besides insulting those of us who are single parents (“broken homes”??) …this is absurd. It is as absurd as saying “most active shooters are white men so the best way to reduce gun violence is for white women to stop having boys.”
Or, let’s go with “most active shooters are American, so the best way to reduce gun violence is that Americans shouldn’t be allowed to have guns.”
There is so much research about the “best way” to reduce gun violence, and this is not on the list. -L
It’s a shame that you took my “broken homes” comment as an insult against single parents. I was raised by a single parent and hadn’t realized that term was applicable. “Unstable families” is what I meant to portray.
My comment was intended to be an encouraging remark, a reminder that being a kind, loving parent can change the country for the better, even if the legislation we push for is not passed or the candidates we vote for are not elected.
“Broken homes” was meant to describe families that have an abusive, drug using, etc. parent or some other characteristic that causes the child to be raised in a less than loving and stable environment. I hope we can agree that that is not the best environment for raising a child and that that child is less likely to be as emotionally stable or successful as a child raised in a stable home. I didn’t think I was at risk of offending anyone with that comment, especially since the type of people who read this blog seem to be the those that are concerned about their children’s well being and are privileged enough to have computer access and the time to read blogs and thus likely wouldn’t fall into that category.
I disagree that my comment is as absurd as the statement you compared it to. The color of your skin (physical appearance) should have no impact on violent tendencies (unless you’re implying that it does?), while how you are raised and your childhood upbringing would likely influence your behavior (environment). Of course, not every abused, lonely child is going to end up as a mass murder, but I hope we can agree that there is likely a link.
Just because something may not be possible to achieve (every child being raised in a healthy, happy home), doesn’t mean it is not a solution or movement in the right direction. A man raised to respect women is unlikely to commit rape. A child raised to respect life and to healthily deal with anger is significantly less likely to hurt others. There are many issues in this country that stem from cultural problems and cannot necessarily be fixed with government legislation.
Again, my comment was intended to be an encouraging remark, a reminder that raising kids in a loving home can have an immensely positive impact on this country.
While trying to contribute in an encouraging and caring way, I apparently manage to insult and unintentionally “mom shame”. This was a good reminder that we live in an era that individuals are easily offended and that I must be more aware of the language I use.