Bipartisan congressional action during the 118th session will be challenging. Last year, Congress made some steps to address gun violence prevention with the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (Public Law No: 117-159), but more must be done to end the epidemic of gun violence. Local communities can play a powerful role in the road to congressional action.
What Actions Can I Take?
We know that gun violence prevention laws save lives. Studies show that strongest state-level gun laws correlate very closely to which states have the lowest gun deaths per capita. We’ve seen similar at the national level. During the federal assault weapons ban from 1994 - 2004, mass shootings dropped 37%, and there was a 43% decrease in the related fatalities. It’s time for permanent solutions.
Legislators in both chambers have introduced gun violence prevention legislation and assault weapon bans, but the divisive partisan climate makes it challenging for these to become law. The Break the Cycle of Violence Act (H.R. 4118/S.2275) from last session is a key example of unadvanced legislation meant to further support violence intervention initiatives.
- Educate yourself and get connected: Consult resources such as thetrace.org and well-known national gun violence prevention organizations such as Brady, Everytown, and Giffords.
Many states are actively changing their gun-related laws. Some are adding important safeguards like ERPOs (Extreme Risk Protection Orders, or so-called red flag laws) and safe storage laws while others are loosening restrictions as with “permitless carry” laws. Most states have an independent organization that works on state specific gun violence issues. Their activities vary, but most will work for better gun-related laws, engage in public education on issues and programs, and support non-legislative solutions (such as promote research to drive evidence-based policy, secure funding for Community Violence Intervention programs.) Here are links to 32 such state organizations.
- Educate yourself: Consult resources such as thetrace.org.
- Get connected to state and local chapters for gun violence prevention organizations. Most national GVP organizations have local and state chapters that focus on local needs. These include Brady Campaign, Everytown for Gun Safety, Moms Demand Action, Giffords, and others.
What your Meeting, Church or other organization can do
- Gather and disseminate information about the many aspects of gun violence in the United States and in your state: State-level organizations often have fact sheets and calls-to-action quite specific to your state. Another source of information is thetrace.org which does journalism-style reporting strictly on gun violence news and research.
- Select a project to support or join in with your state level advocacy organization.
- Hold a vigil or memorial gathering to honor those lost. An example is the repeatable and moveable Memorial to the Lost® initiated by Heeding God’s Call to End Gun Violence.
- Hold an interfaith worship event focused on ending gun violence in your community.
- Hold a gun buyback in your city or town and, if possible, align it with a guns-to-gardening-tools activity. There are groups at the national as well as state and local levels.