It’s only the end of May, but according to NPR, there have already been more than 200 mass shootings in the United States—including the attack at Tops grocery store in a predominantly Black neighborhood in Buffalo, New York, on May 14, and the horrific shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, where 19 children and two teachers were killed and at least 17 more were wounded. The pain those families and communities feel is unimaginable for most of us, and it ripples out, making us live with fear, confusion, and a sense of powerlessness.
It’s easy to feel helpless after a mass shooting. The problem can feel insurmountable, but mass shootings are preventable, and action is an antidote to despair. Here are a few ways you can help stop gun violence.
1. Donate to established advocacy groups and those affected.
Moms Demand Action was founded by Shannon Watts following the Sandy Hook shooting, building a modest Facebook group into a movement with over 8 million supporters. They have educational resources and work to empower people with information and direct actions—from contacting lawmakers to loading you with facts to share at your holiday dinner table. Moms Demand Action has also partnered with Mayors Against Illegal Guns to form Everytown For Gun Safety, a nationwide network that performs research, aids gun violence survivors and survivors of domestic abuse, and maintains a community safety fund.
2. Volunteer your time.
In addition to the local chapters of Moms Demand Action and Everytown, organizations like Giffords—launched and led by former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who was shot at a campaign event in Tucson, Arizona, in 2011—and Sandy Hook Promise offer volunteer opportunities that can help you build a strong community fighting to pass common sense gun laws. Volunteering is an excellent way to exercise your voice as well as build a stable support network.
3. Educate yourself and your kids.
One of the most difficult things to deal with in the wake of these events, especially school shootings, is how to talk to our children—after all, it’s something we don’t fully understand ourselves. Knowledge is power, and Everytown’s primer on how they want to end gun violence is an excellent place for adults to start. When it comes to the young ones, Sesame Street has a host of resources that you can watch on your own and then together; Common Sense Media breaks down their advice by age range.
4. Show up and call your reps.
Calling and writing your representative in Congress can be a cathartic and powerful way of making your voice heard. You can find your representatives’ contact information here. Remember to tell them your name, your zip code, and be concise, direct, and specific about what changes you want made. It really does work.
Beyond calling your reps, you can also sign petitions and show up in the streets to protest. March For Our Lives has a nationwide protest scheduled for June 11. If you don’t have a march near you, consider donating to the cause or hosting a march yourself—it’s easier than you think.
5. Start a conversation.
If you don’t have the resources (time or money) to take part in these actions, recognize that starting a conversation with friends and family can go a long way in changing minds and adding more voices to the community trying to end gun violence. Ask questions, see where they stand, share your experience and understanding. Destigmatize talking openly about gun violence, and you may find you have more allies than you thought.