The violence at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Friday has left us all reeling in horror, shock and sadness. It seems that the deaths of 20 school children and six of their faculty and teachers have caused a tipping point in the gun control debate. Opinion leaders and policy makers who a week ago would not have been likely to accede to the need for some common sense restrictions on assault weapons, high capacity ammunition and background checks are now willing to have those conversations. On Monday, several members of Congress who were previously among the staunchest advocates of expanding the understanding of the Second Amendment signaled new willingness to consider restrictions.
Of course, we have a long way to go between here and there. And even the strongest voices on Capitol Hill calling for a new assault weapons ban, like Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), are making plans to act in January, when the new Congress convenes. Right now, in the midst of the raw pain, January feels like a long time away. So what can we do to make sure that this issue stays at the top of the national agenda and sensible gun control measures are actually passed and signed into law? Here are a few ideas:
- Keep up the pressure. Call and email your Senators and Representative and tell them it’s time for common sense gun control aimed at curbing future violence. Remind them that Congress must act swiftly when it reconvenes in January.
- Send a letter to the editor of your local newspaper calling for action on gun control. City councilors, mayors, governors, state legislators, and members of Congress all read the local papers to keep their fingers on the community’s pulse. Letters to the editor and op-eds in the local press are usually much more likely to change minds than something in a national paper.
- Reach out to local law enforcement. Invite the local chief of police to speak at a synagogue event. Ask about the ways they are working to keep schools and other community institutions (like houses of worship) safe – and what more they think needs to be done to stop the scourge of gun violence.
- Talk to local stores about what they stock on their shelves. Already, there are news reports of sporting good stores that are suspending sales on certain guns that are generally acknowledged not to be of use to recreational hunters but that can do enormous damage in the wrong hands.
- Get involved! Groups like the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, and the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence are at the forefront of gun control advocacy. Keep up with their work, join their advocacy efforts (and the RAC’s!) and make sure the outrage, momentum, and passion for action we feel right now results in real changes that make our children, friends, and communities safer.
Image courtesy of Fox.