I am a first time diarist (and long time lurker). I always feel that there are others who can express themselves much more eloquently than I (and I apologize in advance for any rules I am breaking or conventions I am failing to follow). However, like many of you, I continue to experience an almost overwhelming combination of anger and anguish in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy. Mostly because the children were so young, and at least partially because one of my colleague school psychologists was murdered, I feel the need to act. I like the idea of honoring the innocent of Sandy Hook Elementary by engaging in "26 Acts of Kindness." But kindness will not prevent the next tragedy. Only comprehensive legislation at the federal level will move us closer to that goal. Follow me below the squiggle for “”26 Acts of Advocacy.”
The NRA and their compatriots will not easily allow common sense regulation to be passed. They will be expecting return on the sizable investments they have made in Congress over many years. And they will say whatever outrageous things they think will make hunters afraid of losing their guns and move more people to the paranoid fringe, believing that they require the capacity to fire hundreds of rounds in just a few minutes to protect them from their government.
We did not act after Columbine. We did not act after Aurora. We did not act after any of the horrific incidents in between. We, all of us, bear responsibility for this. We must act now. Online petitions, emails, and even letters are not going to do the job. We can't set up a scholarship and be satisfied that we have done something. We must act now. We have to be more visible than our opponents and we have to be more persistent and we have to be more persuasive.
So, below, I offer "26 Acts of Advocacy." You will probably think of more and better ones. But these are a start.
1. Make an appointment and visit your representative in Congress. Demand comprehensive gun regulation. As a gesture, perhaps he or she would like to send back the NRA's contribution to his/her campaign. Demand legislation that will support primary mental health services in schools and comprehensive mental health intervention in communities. But be clear that these measures are not substitutes for effective gun regulation.
2. Repeat with your senator.
3. Repeat with your other senator.
4. Divest any investments in the firearms industry. If others are investing your retirement funds, demand divestment by those in charge.
5. Work any contacts you have in media to encourage development of persuasive programming that will help people understand that restriction of access to guns does work.
6. Tell your school board to support the provision of primary mental health services in all schools. Every school should have a school psychologist, counselor and/or social worker prepared to support the social-emotional and behavioral development of all children.
7. Actively oppose those who would put more guns on the streets and in our schools. This is a recipe for disaster. Oppose even harder those who would ask children to be in charge of protecting themselves (Yes, I'm looking at you Megan McArdle).
8. Remind people that anecdotes are not evidence. Because one clerk in a 7-11 shot a thief does not mean that arming teachers is a viable method for protecting children.
9. Write letters to the editor of your local paper. Be strong, be vocal, be loud. We can do better to protect our children.
10. Visit your representative again. Ask what he/she has accomplished since the last time you were there.
11. Repeat with your senator.
12. Repeat with your other senator.
13. Repeat with your state leaders. Although federal action must happen so that varying levels of regulation cannot be exploited across state lines, we can build support for strong federal legislation through model state level action.
14. Refuse to be distracted by more distal issues. Violent video games are probably not good for children but the rest of the first world seems to be able to play them without blowing each other away with the same frequency as Americans.
15. Remind people that the 2nd Amendment does not guarantee unfettered access to every kind of weapon that the gun industry can imagine. Ask what they think "well regulated" means in the context of the 2nd Amendment.
16. Help people understand that no single law, regulation, or intervention is going to work. We need a comprehensive set of changes, implemented over a long period of time.
17. Accept that not every incidence of gun violence can be prevented. Do not allow this to become an excuse for doing nothing.
18. Utilize social media to encourage action by your family and friends.
19. Revisit your school board to check on their progress.
20. Refuse to be silenced by the minority of individuals who believe that their "right" to whatever guns they want without regulation does not trump your right to send your children to school or to the mall or to church safely.
21. Reach out to "pro-life" forces. Supporting life includes being able to live past age 7. For those who believe these things happen because of a lack of prayer, ask for an explanation of what happened in the Amish school at Nickel Mines.
22. Hi, Congressman! It's me again. Surely, you have introduced or cosponsored gun safety and mental health legislation by now. I can't wait to hear about it.
23. Repeat with your senator.
24. Repeat with your other senator.
25. Repeat at the state level.
26. Repeat until meaningful change has occurred. "Be the change that you want to see in the world." - Gandhi