The past few years have been some of the worst in history for gun violence in the US, both on campuses and elsewhere. Since the beginning of June, we have already had 15 mass shootings, including the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. History at a gay nightclub in Orlando. No matter your belief on gun possession, all of us can recognize the tragedy of these occurrences and the need to somehow make gun ownership safer. After hearing the news over and over about these senseless killings, it is hard to feel safe anywhere, from your campus library to the concert you attend with friends. However, you are not helpless when it comes to this issue, even though it might feel that way. Even as a recent high school graduate – 17-18 years old and not even out of your parents house yet – there are things you can do to help push for stricter gun laws, and possibly help protect the lives of those around you.
Since the United States is a representative democracy, our elected officials represent our beliefs as the American people. By voting in elections, you are able to put officials into power who are committed to advocating for gun safety. This doesn’t just mean presidential elections. This means electing state legislators who will help to tighten background checks at your local gun show or voting for a senator who will sponsor tighter regulations on felons purchasing firearms. Your voice cannot be accurately heard unless you are voting.
2. College events
One important thing college students have direct control over is their peers. You can start an event on your college campus specifically designed to raise awareness for gun safety. This can be anything from teaming up with different clubs in order to have a “wear orange for gun safety day” to having a lecture series by families of mass shooting victims. There are often funds set aside by your university for students to use, or clubs that are willing to sponsor these events.
As almost everyone in college is of voting age (except for the few young freshmen like me), they are able to sign petitions to legislators. This means you can gather with your friends and stand in front of your library, cafeteria, union, or even sports stadium calling out and asking for signatures. Very few people will have trouble supporting a petition that calls for their safety, whether it's increasing background checks, which 90% of Americans support, or defending Obama's use of executive action for guns safety. Petitioning is another way to show the importance of this issue to your legislators, and is a valuable tool to take advantage of.
4. Contacting your representatives
Even if you do not personally agree with your elected officials stance on gun control, you can be calling them, writing letters, and emailing. All of that can have a big impact on how they vote on their next bill. You can do as little as send a 140 word tweet through Everytown for Gun Safety’s Website to pressure your congress people into voting to protect your safety. Their job is to represent your interests and the more people they have contacting them, the more willing they are to push for gun safety.
5. Student Government
You can join your campus student government and help to make gun safety a key issue. Not all college campuses are completely gun free zones. If your college campus allows concealed carry permits for students or faculty, the student government can actually have a sway in getting this changed. Since Student Government is elected to represent the student body, it can actually have significant say in campus issues with administration. By advocating for gun safety specifically on the campus, administration will be forced to pay attention and real change can be made.
6. Donate to Gun Safety Lobbies
The organizations that continually push for gun safety laws require funding to keep on operating, so one of the best ways to support these groups is to donate money. Groups like the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, Moms Demand Action, and the Brady Campaign are fighting for better gun safety and are always in need of extra resources. You can also donate money to victim survivors, through places such as the Gun Violence Survivor Foundation.
7. Campus Safety Regulations
In the case of a shooter on campus, it is incredibly important to know how to act. A lot of campuses have procedures set into place, yet very few people actually know that they exist. You can familiarize yourself and your friends with these procedures by searching through your campus website and sharing them. Send them in your dorm group-me or in your university Facebook page. By taking a minute out of your day to research and hit share, you could potentially save someone’s life in the case of an emergency.
The horrible truth of the matter is that no matter how many safety regulations we instill for guns, there will likely always be shootings, including on college campuses. However, you can gain control in the face of the tragedies by showing support for these victims and their families and standing in solidarity against these horrific acts. Gun safety laws and regulations are not trying to take away our second amendment rights but simply trying to ensure our safety in our own homes, schools, and communities. By doing these 7 things listed, you can take charge today and hopefully help to significantly reduce the number of these shootings.
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