If you woke up today with a heavy heart and a gut full of rage in the wake of the Uvalde school shooting, you're far from alone. It's impossible to feel anything but suffocating sadness for the grieving parents of Uvalde, who must now confront the reality of a life without their beautiful, innocent children.
Yesterday we all collectively felt paralyzed by the sheer horror of knowing 19 children were murdered in their classroom, and by the horror that this isn't the first time such carnage has happened.
It's easy to say, "It won't be the last time, either." And maybe it won't be. Perhaps, though, the most frustrating part about all of this is that it could be. While there is no Band-Aid in existence that can heal the wound of this uniquely American violence, there are elected officials who have the power to drastically change the scope of it.
The reality is that the ruling class—which includes both political parties—is stripping American children of their right to feel safe at school. However, telling people to "go out and vote" in the midterm elections in five months isn't helpful for the 19 families planning funerals this week. And also? We've done that. We've voted for people who promised to fight for stricter gun laws, people who vowed to protect our children at school. And yet nothing has changed.
While the burden of solving America's gun violence epidemic wholeheartedly should not and cannot be ours to bear—we're not helpless. And because we're not helpless, things are not hopeless.
Here's what you can do in the immediate aftermath of the Uvalde school shooting
Founded by mother of five Shannon Watts in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting, Moms Demand Action is a grassroots movement of Americans—many of whom are mothers—who are actively fighting for public safety measures that protect people from gun violence. This group helps pass stronger gun laws and has chapters in communities across the country to provide education about responsible gun ownership.
You can take action by donating or signing up to volunteer here.
As the largest gun violence prevention organization in America, Everytown has accomplished so much on behalf of everyone who wants to feel safe from gun violence. The organization aims to register voters, elect candidates who will govern with gun safety in mind, demand action from elected officials, and to ultimately change the scope of gun violence in America.
Immediately after the Uvalde school shooting, Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman partnered with Everytown to raise funds to help prevent gun violence—in just two days, that fundraiser is almost at one million dollars.
Billionaire and politician Michael Bloomberg is tripling every donation to Everytown until May 31. You can donate here.
Hadiya Pendleton was tragically shot and killed in 2013 on a playground in Chicago. Her childhood friends decided to commemorate her life by wearing orange, the same color hunters wear in the woods to protect themselves and others.
Wear Orange began on June 2, 2015, Hadiya’s 18th birthday. This year, Wear Orange will take place from June 3-5, 2022—during National Gun Violence Awareness Day. Learn more about Wear Orange weekend and how you can honor survivors of gun violence here.
Write letters to your elected officials
It's understandable to feel disillusioned when it comes to the government and American politics in particular, especially when it seems a new gun violence-related massacre unfolds every week. The gun lobby holds power over the politicians who hold power over us. It isn't fair, but we can't disengage entirely.
Here's a great template you can use to call on your state representatives.
Write letters to fellow voters
Vote Forward is a bi-partisan organization that helps you write letters to fellow voters. According to their data, these letters can boost voter turnout by as much as 3.4%. It turns out a handwritten message is still a compelling piece of mail.
Find a political or social campaign you want to take part in here (Texas is already taken care of, but there are plenty more), and get your best pens ready to write!
Phone banking is one of the easiest ways to get involved with political campaigns or voting issues on a personal level. While phone calls are no one's cup of tea these days, this couldn't be simpler or less intimidating.
You're given a script to follow, and all you have to do is reference it when you're talking to potential voters. If someone hangs up on you, you just move right on to the next call—which is automatically dialed for you.
Demand The Vote has a resource list for different organizations that facilitate political phone banking across the country. You can do it for any candidate in any state who is ready and willing to put gun control at the top of the ballot.
Help fellow moms get elected into office
If anyone can get things done, it's a mom. Emerge America is an amazing organization that recruits, trains and provides a powerful network for Democratic women who want to run for office.
You can get involved by finding events in your area, supporting female candidates whose values align with your own or even run for office yourself.
Sign the Brady petition to get Congress to ban assault weapons
Brady is one of America’s oldest gun violence prevention groups. Currently, the organization is working to unite Americans from coast to coast—both progressives and conservatives—to combat the epidemic of gun violence. Brady has fought within Congress and in communities across the U.S. to fight for gun safety.
There are a variety of ways you can get involved with Brady, but the most pertinent and timely way to take action is to sign the petition to get Congress to ban assault weapons.
"In shootings in which assault weapons or high-capacity magazines are used, 155 percent more people are shot and 47 percent people are killed compared to those without them," the website states. "These weapons of war have no place in civilian hands."
Get the NRA to cancel its event this weekend in Texas
Unfortunately, the annual convention for the National Rifle Association is taking place in, of all places, Texas this weekend. It's scheduled to take place from May 27-29 at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston. (It's worth noting that all firearms are banned from the convention during President Trump's speech at the conference.)
Twitter user and journalist Lexi Mainland shared the contact information for the chairman of the board that owns the convention center, citing that the public can contact him and demand he cancel the poorly-timed event.
Make space for your feelings
Above all, please be kind to yourself in the midst of all of this. Remember that grief in itself is an action, and so is rest. This kind of work is imperative but exhausting; valuable but emotionally taxing. Hold space for yourself to mourn, feel anger, and take a mental break from it all. We're stronger when we allow ourselves this grace.