The Sandy Hook Promise

sh3As I’ve been watching different shows via apps on my phone while at my desk, I’ve seen a couple of impactful commercials regarding back to school safety. Because school shootings are such a relevant issue within America, there’s a lot more safety concerns for students than ever before. From elementary schools to college campuses, the fear of active shooters is real.

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The commercials featured different items that children received for back to school needs, while scenes of a school shooting play out in their surroundings. A skateboard is used to break a window to escape, and a young girl in hiding is able to text her mom from her new phone to say “I love you”. This truthfully doesn’t seem overly dramatic of actual events that have and could happen any day in the U.S. One of my coworker’s son’s school was closed last week due to a possible shooting threat. The fear is honestly real. To read 16 facts about gun violence and school shootings provided by the Sandy Hook Promise, click here 

The Sandy Hook Promise is a non-profit organization that is working to provide programs and practices that protect children and prevent more less. This is in an effort to honor all the victims of gun violence, as the organization was founded by families affected by the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary school that took place on December 14th, 2012. The Sandy Hook Promise is above-the-politics, focusing on the “human side” of the issues by building a movement of schools, families, and community organizations.

sh5They are building a national base, organizing at a community level, developing and delivering mental health and wellness programs, and advocating for state and federal policy. Through initiatives within school districts, students can feel more included, everyone can know the warnings signs, and schools can be more safe overall. For news and information on their efforts, click here or visit their website.

I don’t have kids, and I don’t plan on having kids, but that does not mean that I cannot get involved to help stop school shootings and other events of gun violence. Sandy Hook is working to end mass shootings, and I have signed their petition and promised to share their message as well. #ProtectOurKids

sh1You can find more information on their website at SandyHookPromise.org. Here you can review their plans, know the signs, and learn how to get involved. You can also help to share their message through social media and videos, and you can also sign the petition to take action. Donations can also be made, as every little bit helps make an impact in the real world.

Thanks for reading.

March For Our Lives Peace Plan

My journey with gun reform started with the March on Washington last year, has been continued through March For Our Lives resources and other organizational support as well, and the issue continues to be a prominent problem in America.

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I got a message from March For Our Lives on August 21st, announcing their “Peace Plan for a Safer America”. This plan includes a comprehensive agenda on ending the problems with gun violence in the U.S.

mfol2“Created by survivors, so you don’t have to be one.”

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When I first got the text notification about the peace plan and went to visit the site, it had crashed and went offline. Of course many news outlets had already picked up the story and information for me to immediately find, but I feel that the crash is promising and shows the high level of interest on the topic. Maybe I’m just being optimistic, but most American’s actually do agree on many details of gun reform.

unnamedWaiting for policy changes is a slow moving process, and the organization is focusing on what we can do to help push the agenda to make America safer. While many policymakers are simply offering thoughts and prayers,  the Peace Plan is instead addressing the issue head on, by demanding bold C.H.A.N.G.E.:

Change the standards of gun ownership
Halve the rates of gun deaths in ten years
Accountability for the gun lobby and industry
Name a National Director of Gun Violence Prevention
Generate community-based solutions
Empower the next generation

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The Peace Plan is ambitious, forward thinking, and worth fighting for. The idea is shift power away from the NRA so that all types of gun violence can be addressed: from suicides and accidental shootings to gun violence and shootings driven by hate.

To sign the petition, donate to the cause, or learn more information, visit MarchForOurLives.com or click here for a direct link to the Peace Plan.

Thanks for reading.

Guns In America

4My stance on gun violence and gun control reform is no secret, and after the shootings this weekend in El Paso and Dayton, I’m deeply saddened. I absolutely do not support our president and the awful things he says. I just don’t think it’s okay that a president can spew such racist remarks, promote hate, and be such a bully to individuals that he should be respecting. It’s not okay that this is the face of our country. Because as a result, people think that way of thinking is alright. And then they go and shoot up places that have a high diversity population, and post their white supremacy manifestos online. What’s happening in our country is upsetting, dis-heartening, and embarrassing, and is also a direct correlation to the racist person that we have in office.

*The above are my opinions. You do not have to agree with them. Regardless of race issues, guns continue to be a prominent and polarizing topic in the U.S. Below are some actual facts about guns in America.*

3Guns in America are growing. The number of civilian owned firearms has grown from 170 million in 1990 to 265 million in 2015. Gun-control legislation can help keep everyone safe, as stricter gun-control laws reduce gun deaths – up to 9 times as less. Focus on the types of weapons available can also help, as the the average number of victims in high-capacity weapon shootings is roughly twice as high as shootings where other firearms were used. 

More guns = more deaths from guns. Not only are the gun violence rates much higher in the U.S. than other countries, but the firearm suicide rate is also much hire. We have 8 times the amount of deaths than Canada, 13 times more than France, 20 times more than Australia and 40 times more than Germany.

More guns = more guns being obtained illegally. 40% of criminals with guns obtain them from a street or illegal source, 37% get them from a family or friend, and 11% from a pawnshop, gun show, or other retailer.

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Opinions from gun owners vs. non-gun owners:

  • 89% of both gun owners and non-gun owners support preventing people with mental illnesses from purchasing guns.
  • 82% of gun owners and 84% of non-gun owners support preventing gun purchasing from people on no-fly or watch lists.
  • 77% of gun owners and 87% of non-gun owners support requiring background checks for private gun sales and at gun shows.
  • 54% of gun owners and 80% of non-gun owners support creating a federal database to track all gun sales.
  • 48% of gun owners and 77% of non-gun owners support banning assault-style weapons.

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This information was published in TIME Magazine on November 5th, 2018, and is still extremely relevant today, almost one year later.

“This is America. Guns in my area.” – Childish Gambino, 2018

6To help support the families of the victims of the El Paso and Dayton shootings, donations can be made to the El Paso Community Foundation, Paso Del Norte Foundation, or the Dayton Foundation. (Click here for more information.)

Thanks for reading.

Source: Guns In America: A TIME and JR Project, TIME Magazine.

Gun Violence Awareness Facts

As I’ve said before, I subscribe to different outlets for affecting change in various ways in an effort to support the issues that I wear orange 1care about (see – Trans Awareness Week). March For Our Lives is included in this list, as I also attended the rally in Washington in March 2018, and I continue to get news and alerts from the organization. Since June is Gun Violence Awareness month, I received a text update and was prompted to take a quiz on my knowledge of gun violence. Here are the questions and the information that was shared:*

wear orange 2How many people on average die from gun violence every day?
Answer: 100 people per day – that’s loved ones we’re losing every day because of guns. 

wear orange 2How does the U.S. gun homicide rate compare to other high-income countries?
Answer: It’s 25x higher. This is a uniquely American problem which our leaders have failed to address.

wear orange 2What percentage of Americans support universal background checks?
Answer: 97%. Implementing universal background checks is one way to start addressing these issues. 

Please be aware of which politicians are supportive of what you believe in, and who is fighting to keep our country safe. Also, make sure you #WearOrange on June 7th to support Gun Violence Awareness Month.

Thanks for reading.

*Quiz by March For Our Lives. 
For more information and references, 
visit https://marchforourlives.com/.

Universal Background Checks Bill

tomns.JPGRemember TOMS®? The super cute slip on shoes that would donate a pair of shoes to someone in need for every pair of shoes that you purchase? As if this company wasn’t socially conscious enough, TOMS® is now doing even more.

I’m a big advocate for a reform on gun control, hoping that we can live in a world where gun safety is regulated the way automobile safety is. I believe in universal background checks, routine safety regulations, and appropriate training for all guns that are issued. I myself do not want to ever own a gun, as that would make me wildly uncomfortable, but I understand that others may feel differently. On a PERSONAL level, I hate guns. On a REALISTIC level, I just want the proper protocols to be in place.

After all, over 90% of Americans agree on universal background checks.*

Think about all the steps it takes to own a car. You have to study to pass a written test to get your license. Then, after practicing with a licensed adult, you earn your hours and take your driver’s test to get your real license. Then, you update that routinely. You also obtain a vehicle, which is also checked routinely to ensure the safety of you and those around you. While on the road, you obey the laws of the road, and you don’t let others drive your car who aren’t legally allowed to do so. If you break the law and get caught, you’ll get fines and penalties against your license, and could even have it taken away if you do not follow legislation. Now, nothing will ever prevent accidents from happening, but think about how much more chaos there would be if we didn’t have these rules and regulations for automobiles in place. Why do we not have the same routines for gun control? Both are man-made objects that accidentally take the lives of innocent people every single day. Why are they not treated the same?

UBGC 4On January 8th, a bipartisan bill was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives that would require universal background checks for all gun sales.* The bill is knows as H.R.8, and is a gigantic step for the gun reform movement. This proves that even in such divided times, we still have the ability to agree on basic human issues, and we can affect change.

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In an effort to help push this action, TOMS® has launched a postcard campaign to streamline a way to contact the representatives. By just providing your information via the TOMS® website, you could help take action on this very important issue. Over 720,000 postcards were hand-delivered to Congress as a result of the TOMS® Brand’s effort to make a difference. One of them, of course, was mine!

And now, we can proudly say that the universal background checks bill has been passed in the U.S. House of Representatives!

UBGC 6I hope that this is a historical first step into ending gun violence in the United States. Next stop: THE SENATE! We still have a long way to go, so please remember to vote this November for the representatives that are helping to make the world a better place.

Thanks for reading!

*All information found on the TOMS® website.
Visit https://www.toms.com/ for more information on how TOMS®
is getting involved, how you can help, or to go shoe shopping.

VOTE! (The Primary)

Politics can honestly be extremely overwhelming these days. But, there has been a lot of talk around issues that I care a lot about, so I’ve been doing what I can to follow the next election. I can’t say that I am happy about the social climate that we are living in, so I want to do what I can to make a change. I ‘Marched for our Lives’ in D.C. on March 24th for gun control, I’ve signed petitions to support DACA and related issues, and today, I VOTED.

I think that our country’s bipartisan system is outdated, and whole electoral vs. popular vote thing is super wack. When I was first 18, it made me feel like my vote didn’t actually count at all. I felt small and I didn’t think I could be heard. After I got a little older, there were too many issues that made me passionate and I wanted to be involved. And, I learned that my voice can be heard as long as it’s loud enough.

It truly doesn’t take much to do some quick research into candidates. I subscribe to emails from rockthevote.org and ballotpedia.org to get updates on things like candidates in my party, voting events, and more. Both sites are unbiased, and just reading a couple emails here and there helped me find candidates that support the same issues that I care about. If you are lucky, your city or county might help you out also – so open your mail! I received a handout via snail mail from my district that had a list of running candidates, and a check mark or an X next to different voting issues to indicate which they supported or opposed.

Information is everywhere, so go find it! Then – go vote!

The same sites that I get my information from provide a resource to help me find my polling place. Most voting locations are open 7AM – 8PM, so there is still time to go in the evening even if you can’t make it during the day. Knowing when and where to vote in the Primaries will make things even easier for you to vote in the Midterms in November – and every election day thereafter.

VOTE

Part of my motivation to vote in the primaries comes from being a millennial. Millennials are the largest population of voters, but we have one of the lowest turnouts – especially in the primaries. Current social issues and recent events have made our generation more passionate about the social climate, but nothing will change unless we act on it.

So, did you vote today?

Thanks for reading.

Dickey Amendment

If you follow me on Instagram, you probably know how I feel about gun control.

Without going too deep into the topic as a whole, the lack of research done on gun violence is alarming.

It’s a fact that the U.S. has a much higher rate of gun deaths than the rest of the developed world*. However, there is almost no federal research available on gun violence in America. Many are blaming this on the Dickey Amendment, which was put in place over a decade ago.

The Dickey Amendment prevented the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) from using a spending bill to “advocate or promote gun control.” As a result, the CDC has avoided researching gun violence, aside from some basic data collection.

The National Rifle Association, of course, had pushed for the amendment. This is not surprising: public-health researchers had published studies suggesting that having a gun in the house increased risk of homicide and suicide*, among other things. The NRA argued that this information was politically motivated, even though these were simply published facts – not advocacy.

The Dickey Amendment is part of the reason that there are massive gaps in what we know about gun violence.*

Last month, Congress gave CDC the “okay” to research gun violence, however, almost no movement has been made. It is likely that the CDC will not begin this research until the amendment is repealed.

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CLICK HERE to sign the petition to end the Dickey Amendment. 

Thanks for reading.

Story and inspiration from BuzzFeed News.

The NRA had pushed for the amendment after  
published studies suggested increased risk,
according to The Atlantic.