On Nov. 13, a student gunman killed three and injured two at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia. The university canceled classes on Monday, Nov. 14, with people on and around UVA’s campus ordered to shelter in place for over nine hours.
In 2022 alone, the U.S. has seen 598 mass shootings and counting, according to the Gun Violence Archive — more than there have been days in the year. NPR reports that the UVA shooting wasn’t even the first reported on a college campus the weekend of Nov. 12: It happened on the same day that four students at the University of Idaho were found dead in an off-campus home, believed to be victims of homicide.
It’s clearer now more than ever that gun violence prevention should be a priority for the safety and protection of all Americans. If you’re feeling helpless as politicians send “thoughts and prayers” with promises of reform and little action to back it up, here’s how you can make an impact now to help prevent future senseless acts of gun violence.
Donate to Everytown for Gun Safety.
Everytown for Gun Safety is a nonprofit started as a grassroots movement by moms, students, and survivors of gun violence. Their work includes advocacy at the local, state, and federal levels, as well as supporting survivors, representing them in court, and working to spread awareness of the need for gun safety. You can donate through their website.
Contact your representatives.
Making your voice heard to the people in power, especially as many of them might be up for reelection soon, is one impactful way to make sure the opinion of the people is honored: More than half of Americans favor stronger gun laws as of 2021, according to Pew Research Center data.
With Election Day having passed, you might have new representatives in office — if you didn’t already look up their stance on gun violence prevention during the election cycle, it’s important to do so now. You can also do research into which senators have taken money from the National Rifle Association (NRA). You can find your representatives in the House and Senate on Congress’s website, as well as their contact information. But as activists like Olivia Julianna have pointed out online, this is not only a federal issue — your state and local governments should also be held accountable for their role in gun safety laws. You can also find your state legislators online.
You can also contact your representatives through Everytown’s website specifically to urge them to support H.R. 8, a bill that was passed by the House in March 2021 but has still not passed the Senate. H.R. 8 would require background checks on all gun sales nationwide. The last time it was read in the Senate was after the Uvalde, Texas school shooting in May.
Get involved with a local or national organization.
States United to Prevent Gun Violence has a map with 32 affiliated state organizations — if your state is on there, you can learn more about the efforts happening in your state to prevent gun violence, and figure out how to get involved. You can sign petitions, attend protests, learn more about the laws specific to your area, help educate others you know, and more.
Many college campuses also have Students Demand Action — if there isn’t already one at your school, they have an organizing toolkit on their website. You can also join their Calling Team or Twitter Team, as well as apply for their Summer Leadership Academy.
Contact your school about preventing gun violence on campus.
Since the Uvalde shooting, some colleges have been working to better protect students from threats of gun violence on campus, but the UVA and Idaho shootings make it clear there’s still more work to be done. If you attend a school in a state with lax gun control laws, your university might be beholden to state laws around whether campus carry is allowed. You deserve to be informed on whether your safety could be at risk, so reach out to your school’s campus safety office to learn what the exact laws are and how they apply to your state or campus.
You can sign petitions to keep guns off college campuses and spread them around to other students and university officials. You can also ask your university officials what they do (or what they will do) to promote a culture of safety on campus — as the Prevention Institute points out, investing in a community’s mental health and wellbeing as well as trauma prevention is just as imperative to gun violence prevention as common sense gun laws are. If your school doesn’t have measures in place to protect you, speaking out and encouraging other students to do the same can keep these issues top-of-mind for university administrators. And if you ever feel unsafe on campus, know that there are steps you can take to keep yourself safe.