If you’re worried about gun violence in America, you are not alone. According to the latest statistics, over 35,000 Americans die every year from gun violence, and many more are injured or traumatized by it. Gun violence anxiety is at an all high, and it a time when it feels like there are no easy solutions to this problem, many people find themselves feeling frustrated and hopeless. In those instances, it helps to speak to somebody– a friend, a colleague, or a family member– so that you don’t bottle your worry inside.
The overwhelming majority of Americans support smart gun policies that would prevent senseless violence, and yet Congress has historically been reluctant to pass any major reform. This has resulted in significant spikes in gun violence related anxiety in adolescents: according to the Pew Research Center, the majority of U.S. teens now fear that a mass shooting could happen at their school.
With these alarming statistics in mind, we’ve spotlighted a few trusted nonprofits and advocacy group who are fighting to promote smart gun safety reform in the United States. Each organization could use your time, energy, and donations. Also included in the list below are resources for those who persistently feel defeated by the gun control debate. While progress might seem frustratingly slow, we are moving forward on this issue, if only incrementally. We just have to take this movement one day at a time– and the below steps can help.
Volunteer with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America
Moms Demand Action is a powerful coalition of mothers and other gun sense advocates who fight for public safety measures to protect the public from gun violence. They work closely with Everytown for Gun Safety (discussed below) to push policy reform that have real life consequences for communities across the country.
Recently, in the wake of pressure they placed on local lawmakers, the Wyoming State Judiciary Committee voted against SF75, a bill that would have allowed people to carried concealed, loaded firearms in public places, including K-12 schools, college campuses, and sporting events. With these and other initiatives, Moms Demand Action continues to make progress against the corporate gun lobby. (You can sign up to volunteer with them in your local community here.) Moms Demand Action also plays an increasingly important role at the ballot box, putting their support behind candidates who support smart gun sense legislation.
Donate to Everytown for Gun Safety
Everytown for Gun Safety is one of the most prominent organizations fighting for gun sense reform in America– an issue that has consumed the imagination of those worried about the health and safety of their families.
Against a landscape of what seems like continual setbacks, Everytown For Gun Safety works tenaciously to push progressive policies in the lower court system. They were instrumental in convincing the Trump Administration to ban bump stock devices on guns— a reform that is expected to save countless lives in the communities most affected by gun violence.
Your donation supports these grassroots efforts. Charitable donations also help Everytown maintain a log of current statistics about gun violence. (Important numbers that don’t always make the news.) Whenever the public is feeling helpless about inexplicable gun violence in America, they always seem to inspire hope.
Make a donation to Everytown for Gun Safety here.
Pledge to be a Gun Sense Voter (And Call Your Legislators!)
Gun Sense Voter is a non-partisan grassroots movement of mayors, moms, gun owners, law enforcement officials, veterans, community leaders, and gun owners who support common sense gun safety laws. The campaign’s goal is to hold politicians backed by the NRA accountable for the state of gun policy in America. Often, this means exposing their affiliations with the NRA and supporting the progressive candidates running against them.
When you register to be a Gun Sense Voter, you’ll get alerts about special elections happening in your area. You’ll also get access to current, relevant candidate information so that you can vote with confidence. In the meantime, call your local legislators and ask them what they are doing to end gun violence on a national level. Let them know about your anxiety over gun violence. If you don’t know who represents you, look them up on openstates.org.
Consult These Mental Health Resources
Call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 if you’re experiencing emotional distress following a disaster. These lines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year courtesy of the Disaster Distress Helpline, which exists to provide emotional support to people who have experienced a natural or human-caused disaster, like a mass shooting. The service is toll-free, multi-lingual, and completely confidential.
If you are having suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline immediately at 1-800-273-8255. You can also text TALK to 741741 to talk with a trained counselor for free. (This is the national Crisis Text Line, which is available 24/7 from anywhere inside the United States.)
Many people also find it helpful to seek therapy for gun violence related anxiety. TWLOHA (short for To Write Love on Her Arms) is a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide. Their FIND HELP Tool can help you locate free or other reduced cost mental health services in your community.
Do Not Share Inflammatory Images or Headlines
Even if you are expressing disapproval, sharing images or inflammatory headlines detailing a tragedy only cements those details in your mind. This also heightens the stress on the shared public consciousness. In reality, the world doesn’t need anyone to share yet another opinion or expression of grief in the comment section. Doing so also perpetuates a fixation on the negative when people already feel poorly. Instead, seek solace in speaking to people in real life.
When in Fear, Remember The Odds
If you are personally afraid, it’s worth focusing on living a normal life. Recent spikes in gun violence are alarming, but most peoples’ chances of encountering it in real life are extremely low. Therapists often talk to patients struggling with PTSD about the warped sense of reality that it triggers. For example, if someone experiences or knows someone who has experienced gun violence– or if it happens in their community– these same people will view it as more likely to happen to them. Being inundated with scary news headlines can have a similar effect, as humans are not conditioned to internalize information at the rate it is now produced on the Internet. Be wary of these unconscious biases, which can trigger a lot of unhelpful fear and anxiety. If you’ve hit a real low, therapy and/or these anxiety hacks can help.
Avoid The Details
If you’re really struggling in the aftermath of a shooting, try to avoid the news. Also avoid social media or any other vehicle through which you could learn more details about the event. Details are not helpful. Instead, go for a walk. Spend time with your pet, family, and friends; cook, go out, go shopping– do anything that calms your nerves and restores a sense of normalcy. Ruminating on the bad circumstances gives them too much power over your mood and happiness. If you fill your life with joy, you will be better at coping with sorrow. This will ultimately help you transform your gun violence anxiety into proactive steps towards a better future.
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