By John White / San Diegans For Gun Violence Prevention
“I gotta do something. Anything.”
How many times have you told yourself that?
Did you tell yourself that after Sandy Hook, when gun violence took the lives of 20 children and six adults?
Or after Las Vegas, when a man with guns left 58 people dead and 851 injured?
Or after Parkland, when 14 high school students and three adults died because of guns in the hands of somebody who shouldn’t have had them?
Or after Tree of Life in Pittsburgh last week, when gun violence combined with anti-Semitism to kill 11 and injure six in a rampage described as one of the deadliest against the Jewish community in U.S. history?
When you’re finally able to put down the remote control and step away from social media for a minute, that sentence is still nagging you, isn’t it?
“Oh, man,” you tell yourself yet again. “I gotta do something. Anything.”
So, what can you do?
Almost 2,500 of us told ourselves we had to do something, so we did. We packed the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue to capacity last Monday evening for Standing Together Against Hate: A Community Vigil, put on by the Anti-Defamation League of San Diego. Maybe you were there with us.
In less than 24 hours, the ADL and the synagogue pulled together a huge vigil attended by the city’s political and religious leaders, with a strong showing by the San Diego Police Department. Hundreds and hundreds of citizens of multiple faiths came together as a social community to comfort one another, mourn the atrocity and feel safety in numbers.
Speaker after speaker invoked the memories and lives of the victims of last weekend’s massacre in Pittsburgh, hammering away at the message that hate has no place here. Some suggested ways of grieving without being totally consumed by such a heinously anti-Semitic act.
But a couple days later, many of us still woke up thinking, “I gotta do something.” Maybe you were one of us. Maybe you woke up wondering if that sentence will ever stop nagging you.
And maybe you finally figured out that nobody is going to do that something for you. You gotta do it yourself.
You can work to prevent gun violence in America.
The conversation around guns is so muddy that you probably don’t know where to start. Gun control? Firearm confiscation? Second Amendment? Assault weapons ban? Mental health? The NRA? Concealed carry?
How do you know what to work toward and what to align yourself with?
It’s simple: Work to prevent gun violence in America. Set your compass toward that single goal and most of the other issues will fall into place for you.
You’ll do it through education, by encouraging young mothers to politely ask whether there’s a gun in the neighbor’s house where their children play, and by urging adults to keep firearms locked up to end family fire.
You’ll do it through outreach, by staffing a booth or table so that the community knows that there really are people working to prevent gun violence, and that there really are ways to prevent it.
Local groups like San Diegans for Gun Violence Prevention (SD4GVP) have a presence at several events every month. If you’re telling yourself, “I gotta do something,” then attend a few of their meetings, see how you feel and let them know you’re ready to work.
You can vote for people who will pass sensible gun laws.
The midterm election is upon us. That means it’s time for you to choose representatives who will pass laws that keep guns out of the hands of people who should not have them. And it’s time for you to choose judges who will uphold those laws.
What issues usually motivate you to vote? Poverty? Infrastructure? Immigration? Now you have a new one.
Vote to prevent gun violence in America.
You’ll do it through research, by finding out where candidates stand on sensible gun laws.
If you’re telling yourself, “I gotta do something,” then vote for candidates who understand that 89 deaths a day from gun violence is not your idea of progress.
The sooner you do something, the sooner that sentence will stop nagging you.
And the sooner we can end gun violence in America.
John White is a volunteer with San Diegans for Gun Violence Prevention (SD4GVP), a non-partisan organization aimed at reducing the number of gun deaths and injuries in San Diego County.