Another 17 people – most of whom were children – were murdered this week. The mass shooting took place at a school in Parkland, Florida. Now is the time to take action to prevent another tragedy. You can read about the victims and their unfulfilled promise here (NYTimes), here (CNN), or here (Time). To read about the killer, visit the main page of any major news site – we are not covering that here.
After such frequent shootings and inaction by Congress, it is easy to be cynical. But attitudes are changing. More horror and more data are emerging to convince Americans that government can and should do something.
The GOP has issued standard “thoughts and prayers” comments. Paul Ryan delivered this event’s go-to talking point when he told a radio station, “We need to take a breath and collect the facts.” Of course these are euphemisms to stall until the next news cycle. After all, we have seen Congress come together in the last year to write a health bill in a single night – taking breaths and collecting facts are not consistent with their behavior.
The New York Times presented facts the other day when they illustrated the correlation between the number of guns in a country and the number of mass shootings. There are 270 million guns in the US. India has the second most guns, 46 million (for a population of 1.3 billion). The US owns 42% of all the guns in the world.
The Times piece also notes that research has debunked the theory that frequent US mass shootings are caused by mental health care, video games/culture, or racial divisions.
The article is worth reading in its entirety, but here are some more stats:
- In 2013, the US had 21,175 gun-related suicides, 11,208 gun-homicides and 505 deaths from accidental discharge. That same year, Japan had 13 total gun-related deaths.
- Skeptics refer to a 2016 study finding that the US had 1.5 gun deaths per 1 million people. Switzerland and Finland had 1.7 and 3.4 per million, respectively. The same study also found the US had 133 mass shootings between 2010-2014. Switzerland had one and Finland had two.
- China had a dozen school attacks between 2010 and 2012. No guns were used. 25 were killed by knife. The US had five mass shootings during the same period, resulting in 78 deaths. American attacks were 12 times as deadly when accounting for population scale.
Media coverage, in particular CNN, has also shifted to a more visceral focus. Television coverage has devoted more time to speaking directly with the victims’ families and their classmates.
For example CNN has covered: a mother who lost her daughter begged Congress and Donald Trump to do something; two classmates pleaded with lawmakers to act; fellow classmates powerfully rejected a conservative personality’s remark that guns are not the issue; and multiple interviews with classmates recounting the trauma. The link to these emotional videos is here.
The key to enacting gun reform is engaging in a pro-longed effort. Do not let politicians move on when Parkland drops from the front pages.
If you believe government can not or should not do anything to stop massacres, then the onus is on you to explain how these deaths are worth the cost of doing nothing.
There are areas of agreement among Republicans and Democrats. The current Republican party’s refusal to do anything is not reflective of their constituents values.
For those who believe the country can do a little better, here are action items:
1. Call your representative – 5calls has set up a script and app to assist you in making the calls quick and easy. The site provides some quick background information on gun reform as well as the phone number for your representative.
2. Now call Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell – Both leaders of Congress have the ability to set the legislative agenda. Both have chosen to ignore gun reform. Let them know how you feel about it.
Paul Ryan’s Janesville, WI Office Phone: (608) 752-4050
Mitch McConnell’s Louisville, KY Office Phone: (502) 582-6304
3. Call the NRA – The NRA has been shielded from public outrage by using sympathetic politicians as their buffer. But you can call the NRA and tell them you want change. Their refusal to take any accountability for mass shootings is an irresponsible use of their power. They can correct it and serve the 2nd Amendment with responsibility. This tactic is especially effective if you are a NRA member.
NRA HQ Phone: (800) 672-3888
4. Protest the NRA’s Business Interests – The NRA created a “business alliance” to bring together sympathetic businesses for the purpose of a little extra promotion. The way it works is: if you have a business and you like the NRA, you can enroll in their NRA Business Alliance. This allows other people who like the NRA to look you up.
You can take action by calling and emailing the businesses in your state. Let them know how you feel about their alliance with the NRA in the wake of mass shootings.
The link to the directory is here. Just select your state and you will find contact information.
5. Pressure the NRA’s Business partners to terminate their alliance with the NRA – The NRA has an arrangement with several large businesses to offer member benefits. You can disrupt this relationship by pressuring external businesses to abandon the NRA.
Here are businesses partnering with the NRA along with corporate contact information. Be polite and express why you want them to change their relationship with the NRA. They have benefitted from the NRA’s promotion, but have remained silent when the NRA squashes any talk of halting mass murders.
The following four businesses included because they are featured on the NRA’s Business Alliance benefits page.
FedEx offers discounts for NRA supporters who enroll in a specific FedEx program. The CEO of FedEx is Fred Smith. Smith has made himself very accessible for customer concerns. The information below is public.
The phone number for his executive office is (901) 369-3600.
Fred Smith’s email is FWSmith [at] FedEx.com
Visa offers sign-up perks for NRA members who choose to apply for a new NRA credit card.
Visa’s corporate office phone number: (650) 432-3200
LifeLock is featured on the NRA’s business page, though the benefits beyond promotion are unclear. LifeLock can choose to distance itself from the NRA.
LifeLock corporate office phone number: (800) 543-3562
Wild Apricot is a software service for managing membership lists. They can also choose to remove their branding from the NRA’s website.
Wild Apricot’s sales phone number: (844) 493-6920
6. Write to your local paper – Share your perspective with your community. A huge piece of ending gun violence is changing the attitudes we hold toward gun use. Everytown has put together a ton of research to inform you of your state’s gun laws and how they compare to other states. Use this link if you need help putting your letter together.
7. Donate to organizations working on gun reform – Senator Chris Murphy shared this ActBlue link today. The link takes you to an ActBlue page where you can choose how much you would like to donate to a coalition of gun reform organizations. Murphy rose to national prominence following the Sandy Hook massacre in 2012 and has been the Senate’s loudest advocate for gun reform since.
8. Work to toss out Congressmen owned by the NRA – Everytown (again, a top resource for info), put together a plan to make gun reform a major issue this fall. There are a variety of tools at this link. All focus on electing representatives that will act.
Small actions lead to big change but require persistence. Let us know how taking action went.