If you ever had doubts about the youth of America, solidarity shown by teens advocating for gun control during #MarchforOurLives and #NationalSchoolWalkout events across our nation served as a good reminder that this is our future. Our nation’s students proved they’re committed to advocating for what they believe in as they walked out of schools across the country protesting gun violence. They demonstrated compassion as they honored students of Stoneman Douglas with 17 minutes of silence and just 10 days later became young activists who were part of a global movement.
Yesterday I was in Washington, D.C., watching as area students descended on the White House, arriving from every direction. As large groups of students approached, the crowd interrupted their chants of “What do we want? Gun control. When do we want it? Now!” and erupted into a cheer.
When the clock struck 10 am, backs were turned to the White House and everyone sat in place. For 17 minutes, student protesters sat in silence to honor each of the victims killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last month.
No one talked. No one got up. No one commemorated the peaceful protest with a 17 minute of silence selfie.
And when 17 minutes had passed, the group rose. Students gathered their signs, collected their friends, turned right, and resumed their chants as they made their way down Constitution Avenue towards the United States Capitol.
As a former teacher, I could tell that today was about more than wanting to skip school. I listened to the conversations between students that happened between chants as they walked. They were able to articulate the need for gun control, understood importance of advocacy, and felt it was their Constitutional right to peacefully protest.
The parent in me knows that today was a chance for kids to apply lessons learned about civics, government, and the Constitution inside the classroom outside of the classroom. But even though the show of solidarity was important, we need to help our kids advocate for the change they so desperately want for our country by continuing the conversation at home. Changing our country’s laws about gun control is a marathon even though we wish it was a sprint.
8 Ways Parents Can Help Kids Continue Advocating for Gun Control
So what comes next? The #NationalSchoolWalkout has left us on an advocacy high that will remain even after the March 24 March for our Lives rally in Washington, D.C. ends. Our challenge is maintaining our endurance. We need to remain energized to continue important behind the scenes work at home and help our teens do the same. Here are 87 things you can do to continue the conversation and stay involved in advocating for gun control.
Continue Learning About the Facts
To advocate for any cause, our kids need to know statistics to explain why what you’re doing is important. When advocating for gun control, it’s important to know statistics about gun violence. The following articles are full of facts and numbers. I urge you to take a look at them to help your family continue to learn important facts about the issue of gun control and gun violence but since you know your child best, please determine if it’s best for you to read and summarize the information or if your child is old enough to read them independently.
- The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence’s mission is to cut gun deaths in half by 2025. Their About Gun Violence section has lots of facts about the effect of gun violence on our children, how it impacts our tax dollars, and figures about background checks.
- Sandy Hook Promise’s Get The Facts section has a free downloadable PDF that contains more statistics about gun violence in America with a fact sheet
- CNN’s How US gun culture compares with the world in five charts features compelling visuals to accompany their statistics, including that Americans own more guns per capita than residents of any other country. Visual learners looking for more charts will also like Vox’s America’s unique gun violence problem, explained in 17 maps and charts.
- 14 Facts That Show How Gun Violence Affects American Kids from The Trace is also a good read.
Help Them Learn Who Your Elected Officials Are
If you don’t know who represents you in Congress, sit down with your child and find out thanks to WhoIsMyRepresentative.com who makes it easy to figure out who your elected official is by searching by your zip code or state.
Know How Your Senator Voted and if They Accepted Money from the NRA
Now that you know who your Senator is, how they voted matters! Everytown.org has published the Senate Vote for Background Checks that tells you if they voted yes or no. You can also find out if your Member of Congress has accepted NRA money thanks to Everytown.org. Just fill out this form and they’ll provide a phone number for you to call.
Share Contact Information for Your Elected Officials
The best thing you can do to take action is to contact Congress.
- Call or write your Senator to ask them to support a comprehensive gun proposal. Senator Chuck Schumer is in support of expanding Brady background checks, supporting extreme risk laws (ERPOs), and banning assault weapons. Encourage your Senator to support Schumer’s proposal.
- Call or write your Congressman to support HR 5087 to ban assault weapons. The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence has a pre-written email template that you can fill out here.
Share How Easy it is to Register to Vote
Among the signs held by students during #NationalWalkOut were ones that proudly declared when the sign holder would be eligible to vote. While today’s youth seem ready to register to vote, make sure they stay involved and updated about election related topics even when they head off to college. Everytown for Gun Safety can help our young voters stay up to date about upcoming elections by providing election reminders and assist them in applying for absentee ballots through this link. Absentee ballots are an easy way that college students can vote to have their voices heard even when away at school. This resource is also available in English and Spanish and also features a way for new voters to get registered.
Take Action to Make Your Community Safer
The mobile phone that your tween or teen has serves as a powerful tool for continuing to advocate for gun sense. Sign up with Everytown.org to join their list of Gun Sense Advocates and they’ll send you a text with actions you can take to make your own community safer when you can because everything you do helps the cause.
Realize There Are Many Ways to Be Involved
While the above ideas are a great way to continue advocating for gun control, they are not the only things that can be done. Everyone needs to find a way to be involved that feels right for them and respect the various ways of championing positive change.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas was an environmentalist, journalist and activist. While her name will be forever linked to a tragedy in Parkland, Florida, these words are incredibly meaningful to the work that each and every one of us must do to help move the needle on gun control. are doing and will continue to do to move the needle on gun control.
This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.