Content warning: this story mentions suicide, transphobia and homophobia, racial injustice, and gun-related violence. Gun violence in the United States is nothing new. The grim reality is that mass shootings and other instances of firearm violence have been persistent since the weapons were first created. Over the last five years, Americans have seen a dramatic spike in gun-related injuries and fatalities, making it the leading cause of death for children. Yep, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, as of 2020, firearms replaced cars as the No. 1 cause of child mortality. Let that sink in.
Despite the overwhelming evidence linking guns to higher levels of homicide, accidental deaths, and attempted self-injury, there’s still a lot of work to be done to resolve this epidemic. (And yes, gun violence is an epidemic. To paraphrase the National Library of Medicine, since gun violence endangers public health, it should be classified with this medical term.)
As the gun violence prevention debate continues, it’s easy to feel like your voice isn’t heard. But many activists refuse to let inaction be the solution to gun violence. Using Instagram and other social media platforms to fortify their campaigns, these six anti-violence advocates mobilize their audiences to put a much-needed end to this social and public health issue.
Led by Gen Z activists, Team Enough is dedicated to spreading information about gun violence and its devastating impact on the U.S., in addition to providing actionable steps to supporting anti-violence. For example, you can advocate for AB 452, a California law that seeks to reduce the likelihood of school shootings.
Aalayah Eastmond, 21, is a survivor of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas school shooting of 2018. Now a senior at Trinity Washington University, Eastmond is an executive for Team Enough and is active in fighting against gun violence and police brutality. Offline, Eastmond has participated in several March For Our Lives events, as well as spoken about the disproportionate rate at which gun violence targets Black and brown individuals.
Black trans women are a severely at-risk group for gun violence in the U.S. According to an Everytown for Gun Safety report, “73% of tracked homicides between 2017 and 2021 were of Black trans women,” despite them making up a very slight margin of the trans population. To combat this public health crisis, Moxley founded and is currently the executive director of the Marsha P. Johnson Institute, a project that supports the lives and human rights of Black transgender people through community healing and leadership. With the Marsha P. Johnson Institute, Moxley also raised money to provide COVID relief for Black trans women as they face financial hardships such as unemployment, lack of health care, and more. Her other achievements include directing Black Beauty, a short film emphasizing the need for self-love and belonging.
Run by a council composed of Gen Z activists, Project Unloaded encourages discussions regarding firearm violence in the U.S. as it works toward the goal of “changing gun culture.” Their current campaign, SNUG (Safer Not Using Guns), calls for young adults to make the vow to “be SNUG” and to let their personal experiences and concerns be heard.
Having founded LIFE Camp Inc., a non-profit devoted to healing survivors and people in communities impacted by gun violence, Erica Ford has certainly made a name for herself. Through LIFE Camp, Ford offers therapeutic services for those dealing with trauma. Ford’s mission is to prevent young adults from falling into the grips of the criminal justice system, which she says is anything but “just.” In addition to LIFE Camp, Ford co-founded the National Black & Brown Gun Violence Prevention Consortium, which is a BIPOC-led organization committed to providing resources and training for violence intervention. Thanks to Ford and other activists, South Queens, New York, saw nearly four years without homicide.
Co-founded by John Grauwiler, Kevin Hertzog, and Brian Worth, the mission of Gays Against Guns is to end gun violence, which is too often linked to homophobia and transphobia. Gays Against Guns specifically targets firearm manufacturers, the NRA, and politicians who prevent progress from being made, taking a direct action approach. Gays Against Guns hosts monthly meetings and rallies, as well as frequent marches and other forms of direct action for anyone to get involved with. Other queer activists, like X González — who you may remember from their speech at the 2018 March For Our Lives rally — have played crucial roles in the fight for anti-violence.
Aside from following these organizations, you can take more actionable steps to prevent gun violence. Preventing gun violence needs to happen at a legislative level, but you can help by contacting your state representative, donating to organizations like the March For Our Lives Action Fund, Sandy Hook Promise, and Everytown Support Fund, and holding politicians and firearm manufacturers accountable for their actions by organizing and participating in protests. Safety should not be a privilege, but a basic human right. Enough is enough.