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 as parents and as humans. And so I would be remiss if I didn’t write about unnecessary gun violence and what we can do about it.
In 2023, firearm violence has officially become the leading cause of death for children in America. That is shocking and unconscionable.
Gun violence impacts every single family, wherever we live, in whatever town our kids are forced to endure active shooter drills in their classrooms–and for too may American who have lost their own friends and family members to guns.
Crying Dove image at top via unicorn baby, created to commemorate the children of Sandy Hook, and used with permission.
This post updated August, 2023
Our kids should not have to grow up with statistics like these.
This week, we’re grieving over the racist murder of 3 innocent people in Jacksonville, Florida, by a shooter with white supremacist ideologies and a legally purchased AR-15.
When I first wrote this post in 2015, our country had just endured two mass shootings in San Bernardino and Savannah — the 354th and 355th in the US that year. I updated this on 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. Then again in 2018 after Parkland. Again in after the gun-related domestic terrorism in El Paso and Toledo — less than 12 hours apart — then again and again and again…
The numbers are climbing. We have to do something.
When these shootings happen — as they continue to do — we alternate between outrage and grief, wondering just kind of world we are raising our children in. Especially when in an average year, over 117,000 Americans including more than 16,000 children in the US are injured or killed as a result of guns. Deaths of children by gunshots up a staggering 50% in just two years.
This number is so high, it’s actually lowered the average life expectancy in this country, which should shock all of us.
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 are sharing a few organizations below that are advocating for common sense changes to gun legislation, and to explain what those changes look like.
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An illustration from Nikkolas Smith’s new book, The Artivist
What does common sense gun control look like?
If you want to support specific initiatives, here are just some of the regulations, laws, and policies that gun control organizations are fighting for. They’re not unreasonable–which is why they’re called “common sense” regulations.
- Mandatory background checks for all gun purchases, universally, across all 50 states
- Creating a federal database to track all gun sales
- Keeping guns out of the hands of those with criminal records, including a history of domestic abuse, in part through red flag laws/extreme risk laws (currently adopted by only 21 states)
- Preventing gun purchases by those with diagnosed mental illnesses who may present a danger to themselves or others
- Closing loopholes that currently allow iindividuals on the terrorist watch list to purchase guns.
- Closing the gun show loophole by passing The Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2023
- Closing the indicted dealer loophole, preventing sales from firearms dealers under indictment.
- Strengthening concealed carry laws and regulations on silencers
- Requiring gun dealers to submit inventories including the loss/theft of firearms to the ATF by repealing the Tiahrt Amendment
- Regulating “ghost guns,” which can be built at home from kits, and used untraceably and without licensing
- Enforcing the provisions in the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act that cuts down on illegal gun trafficking
- Mandating the safe storage of guns to prevent family fire
- Raising the legal age for gun ownership to 21
- 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
- Banning permitless concealed carry
- Continuing to earmark federal funding for gun violence research through the CDC and NiH, to treat it as the public health issue that it is.
Also, we need to take a hard look at why civilians need unfettered access to military-style assault weapons and high-ammunition clips.
Organizations Doing Impactful Work to Reduce Gun Violence
Image: @Marchforourlives DC chapter
As always, we 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. In other words, be the helper.
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.
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.
Veterans for Gun Reform is an initiative of Brady United, a nonpartisan program mobilizing America’s service members to address the gun violence epidemic.They know firsthand that the sound of weapons of war don’t belong in homes and communities. Not only is this group taking on the gun violence overall, but the increasing numbers of suicide by gun; on average, 17 to 20 veterans die by suicide each day, roughly 2/3 of them using a firearm.
Giffords (formerly Giffords Courage) was founded by Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, retired Navy Captain, astronaut , and current U.S. Senator from Arizona, Mark Kelly. The organization works to reduce gun violence and to 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. The Giffords Law Center is helping to research policies that will inform effective laws to keep more Americans safe.
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 the members @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 mom of five Shannon Watts, there is now a chapter in all 50 states to mobilize more grassroots public safety measures. They have an excellent resource center for more info on their site, and you can download their Demand Action volunteer app (iOS, Android) to get involved.
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. In fact, whenever I’m feeling hopeless, I look at their growing list of gun sense victories, which is wildly impressive.
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.
Change the Ref is dedicated to empowering youth activists to become the next generation of elected leaders. It was founded by Manuel and Patricia Oliver, parents of Joaquin “Guac” Oliver, who was one of the 17 who died in the Parkland shooting. Their advocacy tactics combine the use of urban art, creative non-violent tactics, education and disruption, making them a very appealing organization for teen activists. Their Instagram feed gives a good snapshot of how they are putting art and creativity to good use.
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 is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit newsroom dedicated to shining a light on America’s gun violence crisis through reporting. 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
What else you can do to advocate for common sense gun control.
Doing something always makes me feel better than doing nothing.
–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.
If you think these gun control ideas make good common sense, you’re in the majority.
Recent polling indicates that a vast majority of Americans support common sense gun laws.Even if we disagree on some of the approaches, overall, gun safety is not a partisan issue. In a recent poll by Fox News, reported by Axios:
- 87% support criminal background checks
- 77% support 30-day waiting periods for gun purchases.
- 81% support raising the legal age to buy guns to 21
- 80% support requiring mental health checks for all gun purchasers
- 61% of voters support banning assault rifles and semi-automatic weapons.
So let’s join forces and get to work.
This is important to us.
We are moms who care about kids and their well-being. We always have been. Over the years, we’ve discussed issues from crib safety to food safety to car seat safety to Covid prevention 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.
And hey, we have military members, hunters and gun owners in our families too. We understand the complexity of the issue. We are not writing this to start comment fights or encourage trolling. (In fact, trolls are not welcome here, sorry!) We just a few people among the majority of Americans who want to fix a deadly problem.
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 Words with Friends, or binge watch Netflix, then by all means do what you have to do. But after you’ve 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.