In the first six months of 2018, there were 150 mass shootings in America. And though the number of dead continues to climb — over 7,210 people have been killed by firearms this year, a figure that is rapidly rising — gun law reform hasn’t had much traction on Capitol Hill.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to get involved in shaping U.S. gun laws and regulations. From joining advocacy groups to buying lipstick (really), here are four ways you can take action on gun reform to help push it onto the congressional agenda.
ARM YOURSELF WITH KNOWLEDGE
Lobbyists and reporters are often at odds in how they can influence policy. Reporters expose, while lobbyists harangue and cajole. But despite their differences, both are effective in their own right — and they could use your help.
First, know your stuff: Read daily news from a source like The Trace, a nonprofit news organization that covers gun violence across the U.S. and is primarily financed through the nonprofit Everytown for Gun Safety.
Everytown, which is funded by $50 million of former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s money, actively fights against the NRA’s lobbying with a coalition of their own — comprised of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, as well as survivors of gun violence — to help raise awareness and change legislation in the U.S.
Everytown recently had success in pushing gun reform in New Jersey, which just passed a “red flag” bill that allows law enforcement to temporarily confiscate guns from people they determine a risk to society or themselves. According to Axios, the group convened 10 times with state leaders and had a day of advocacy in support for the bill in order to help pass it.
INFLUENCE POLICY FROM YOUR LAPTOP
Have an opinion on gun reform? Outside of voting, social media is the easiest way to send a message to your congressional leaders.
Not only does Facebook’s Town Hall Project make it simple to find out who your local representatives are and to message them directly, websites like Countable help you navigate all the bills currently being considered in D.C., and to take action by letting representatives know what you think of the bills.
SideReel founders Peter Arzhintar and Bart Myers launched Countable in 2014, when there were few ways to engage politicians on the internet. “We were talking about what to do next, and we’re both passionate about politics,” Myers told Wired. “We were interested in what happened with campaign finance reform and [the Stop Online Piracy Act], but we were disappointed with the tools that were out there to drive advocacy and let the average voter to get involved.”
Countable now has news and a social component that allows users to interact with others’ opinions, and vote on them too.
If you’re fired up about the lack of gun regulation in this country, buy some lipstick.
No, really. The Lipstick Lobby is a social movement e-commerce beauty website that is dedicating 100 percent of net profits from their “Fired Up” lipstick color — a fiery orange-red — to the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. The Brady Center aims to cut gun deaths in half by 2025.
If you’re feeling especially generous — or just need to stock up on cosmetics — you can also support Planned Parenthood or the American Civil Liberties Union by buying other products from The Lipstick Lobby that contribute to those organizations’ campaigns.
For those with extra deep pockets, supporting high-end brands that align with gun reform is another way to maintain your activism-glam game. As one example, Gucci donated $500,000 to the March for Our Lives rally this year. And if you’re a jet-setter, flying Delta and staying at a Wyndham hotel is yet another way to stick it to the NRA. Those are just a few of the brands that have cut ties with the gun lobby.
MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD, EVEN IF YOU’RE UNDERAGE
With the website WeCan.Vote, you can see how your state representatives rank with the NRA’s scorecard (A+ being the most friendly toward the gun lobby and F the least). If you’re not yet voting age, you can sign up on the website and then cast your vote to keep those members in or out of office. The vote is purely ceremonial and doesn’t actually influence election results, but it does send a message to leaders that the next wave of voters is coming.
Another way to make a difference? Join or form your own activist group, much like students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School did when 17 students and staff members were shot and killed this past February. If you need some inspiration, here are just a few examples of young activists demanding change.