Illustration by Jen Kelly.

Keep your thoughts and prayers


We call b.s. too.

Your thoughts and prayers are not enough to encourage gun law reform. By getting involved in local politics and deciding what shape you want gun reform to take, you can make a difference.

Nikolas Cruz was arrested by police as he walked through a residential street on the afternoon of Feb. 14. According to the New York Times, Cruz had ample time to visit a Walmart, buy a drink from Subway and visit a McDonalds before he was apprehended for shooting 17 high school students at a school he was expelled from. The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting has placed eighth among the top 10 deadliest shootings in United States history, according to the L.A. Times.

MSD High School student Emma Gonzalez gave a speech on Feb. 17 at a gun reform rally where she addressed lawmakers and politicians. In her speech featured on CNN, Gonzalez claims that she and her fellow students are done dealing with the government, there will be change.

“We call b.s.,” she said.

“And maybe the adults have gotten used to saying, ‘It is what it is,’ but if us students have learned anything, it’s that if you don’t study, you will fail,” Gonzalez said. “And in this case, if you actively do nothing, people will continually end up dead, so it’s time to start doing something.”

We claim the individuals who commit these mass shootings are mentally ill, suffer from extenuating circumstances or troubled upbringings. We claim and discuss how easy it is to obtain guns in different areas. Then we take to social media in masses and we send out our anger, our rage, our thoughts and prayers in a Tweet, a Facebook or Instagram post. But what does sending out our thoughts and prayers do but perpetuate the problem?

The hypocrisy in response from bystanders, politicians and lawmakers is staggering. Even the President of the United States Donald Trump has done nothing but express his sentiments and find a way to make this issue about his agenda, simply to avoid taking action. The president is also responsible for signing a bill last year that removed an Obama administration order to allow the Social Security Administration to release mental health information that would be included in background checks, prohibiting those with some mental illnesses from purchasing guns.

The same way Gonzalez and the other children of MSD High School are furious and want results, so should you.

The first step to promoting gun reform as a citizen is to decide what shape and direction you want your efforts to take. Understanding what kind of reform you’re looking for can shape where or how you get involved locally. Establishing some focus on reform can also come from where you end up donating your time or money.

Start by donating or volunteering your time with organizations that advocate for gun control, such as the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, Moms Demand Action, Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence or the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. Do not donate blindly, and use discretion when choosing where you want your time and effort to go.

Next, contact those who influence legislation on gun reform. By reaching out to your state representatives or members of congress, you can voice your take on gun reform and how you wish for your representatives to make their decisions.

The representative for Humboldt County is Jared Huffman. Go to his website for contact information and reach out. Formatting a letter is easy, especially with multiple online templates. Write your own letter, find an advocacy site or contact his office directly via phone.

If you are not sure of who your representative is, use a simple website like to find out who you should contact on a local or congressional level. Register to vote in your area and pay attention to local legislation.

The reality of the fallout of these shootings is that no matter how often they happen, the motivation to act is lost soon after. We must stop waiting for the next shooting.

Action and reform must happen for change to happen. Conversations about gun reform are no longer enough.

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