Just this year, there have been 255 mass shootings in America and 33,237 shooting incidents alone. This number keeps growing. People of all ages and races have been shot at places of worship, schools, the workplace, festivals, bars and shopping centers. In the last week we have mourned victims of three shootings; at the Gilroy Garlic festival, in Dayton, Ohio and at the El Paso, Texas Walmart. 55 people were shot in Chicago in the same weekend, with 7 dead. The numbers are terrifying. This is our new normal in the United States.
The aftermath is the same. Shock, sadness, outrage and an overwhelming frustration at the lack of action to help America deal with its gun violence and mental health crisis. Politicians, mayors and advocates fighting on Twitter. Other countries have figured it out—New Zealand took action the day after their March mass shooting—why can’t we?
If you are ready to take action (and you should be!), here are some ways you can help, both locally and nationwide:
Lobby your legislators to support common sense gun reform legislation:
- Here’s all you need to know about the best ways to tell Congress gun laws need to change.
- The Brady Campaign to End Gun Violence suggests contacting Senator Mitch McConnell, Majority Leader and demand that he brings Congress back from summer recess to act. Text “EMERGENCY” to 877-877 to be connected to his office.
- Giffords will patch you through to your senators directly and you can use their calling script to make your voice heard.
- Look for your senator’s contact information here and your representative’s information here, and write to them.
- And, if you live in Illinois, here’s an easy way to reach your officials using a simple online form.
Help make guns less accessible and our public spaces safer by joining the fight alongside one of these organizations:
- Every Town for Gun Safety represents more than 4 million mayors, moms, cops, teachers, survivors, gun owners, and everyday Americans who have come together to make their own communities safer by fighting for the changes that will save lives.
- The Courage To Fight Gun Violence was started by US Representative Gabrielle Giffords and others after she was shot during a visit with constituents at a mall in her district.
- San Francisco’s Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence offers legal assistance to people trying to make their communities safer from gun violence.
- Mom’s Demand Action For Gun Sense In America is similar to MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Drivers), and was founded in response to the Sandy Hook school shooting by one mother and quickly spread. Chapters are now in every state.
- Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence is the oldest, largest statewide organization committed to changing laws and behavior in order to reduce the devastating effect firearms have on our society.
Understand your candidates’ position on gun control by using these resources:
- NRA Ratings: Find out if your candidate is being funded by the NRA, and therefore is less likely to advocate for safer gun laws.
- Center For Responsive Politics
Help to improve our mental health public safety net by supporting these organizations and initiatives:
- NoStigmas: This is a global peer-to-peer support network committed to eliminating the stigma that surrounds mental illness and creating more sources of mental health support.
- The Rush Hospital West Side Total Health Collaborative: Rush and other medical institutions put mental health professionals in schools on Chicago’s underserved West Side.
- Text-A-Tip Hotline: Mental health professionals respond to anonymously sent tips within minutes of receipt to help anyone suffering with mental illness. Started in collaboration with schools, clergy, public safety officials, and parents in Lake Forest, this program has spread across the Chicago region and the country.
- San Francisco Mental Health Education Funds: The SFMHEF provides services throughout San Francisco to help people suffering from mental illness.
- Mental Health Association of San Francisco: The MHASF is a nonprofit that provides mental health education, advocacy, research and services for people in San Francisco.
Foster more opportunity for your city’s youth. Support or volunteer with one of the following organizations:
- Better Philanthropy Award Winners are a great start: Academy For Global Citizenship, Bernie’s Book Bank, BUILD, By The Hand Club For Kids, Crushers Club, Girls In The Game, Horizons For Youth, Innovations For Learning, James B. Moran Center For Youth Advocacy, Mothers Trust Foundation, Northwestern University Settlement House, Phalen Leadership Academy, Posse Foundation, SitStayRead, Spark Program, Youth Outreach Umbrella
- The following organizations are also doing incredible work for Chicago’s youth and would greatly appreciate your time or financial support: A Better Chicago, Boys Club/Girls Club, Chicago Public Education Foundation, Evanston & North Shore YWCA, Ingenuity & the Be Creative Campaign, Invest For Kids, McGaw YMCA, YMCA of Greater Chicago
- Marin City Bridge the Gap, San Francisco Education Fund, Bay Area Mentoring, The SMART Program, YMCA of SF, Big Brothers Big Sisters Bay Area, First Exposures, Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice