Terror and deep sadness have struck the hearts of many.
We just experienced yet another tragedy related to gun violence. On Valentine’s day, 2018, 17 were killed and 14 injured, as a result of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida. This was the 18th discharge of firearms since January 1st on school grounds, according to the organization, Everytown for school safety. The 30th mass shooting in the US since January 1st, as reported by Business Insider. With over 30,000 gun related deaths per year, we have an epidemic.
Like with other mass shootings, as a society, we are again reacting with some combination of being stunned; exploring how and why the mass shootings happened; looking to fix blame; deflecting responsibility; and crying out for bigger personal, institutional and societal changes.
All of these reactions are normal, in the face of such a senseless, unforeseen and devastating act of violence.
While I agree with our call for a legislative fix to this problem, I think we need much more. The fight against the strong forces of gun lobbyists and a culture of entitlement around gun ownership has been long and hard. The change slow.
We need to think more broadly and creatively. We need a multi-pronged approach – similar to the ones that have brought about shifts such as the ones against smoking and drunk driving. We must engage in sustained action till we have reached a critical mass that bring about new attitudes and norms.
We can take the cue from the students at Marjory Stoneman High School in Florida. In less than a week since the tragedy, they have inspired many to participate on March 24th in one of the many March for Our Lives gatherings that will take place in Washington DC and other major US cities. This a march that is a rallying cry for a different response.
We can take the cue from the students, staff and parents at schools that go out of their way to make their schools and communities inclusive so nobody feels marginalized and therefore desperate and lonely enough to go on a shooting spree.
We can take the cue from people who go out and create relationships with gun owners to encourage them to employ gun safety measures. Or the people who are working to decrease the violence we see on screens through their personal boycotts.
We can take the cue from Scott Pappalardo. In his personal response to the tragedy, he created a video entitled, “My drop in a very large bucket.” He posted it on Facebook and in less than 60 hours, it got almost 15 million views. In the video, referring to his AR-15 semi-automic gun, he asked, “Is the right to own this weapon more important than someone’s life?” He decided it was not, and so he sawed it in front the video camera.
Even in the face of the powerful lobbyist and cultural forces, do not underestimate the power you have to shift the tide. There is no single answer. There are many. The examples I gave are just a few.
I ask you, what one answer do you have that you are willing to act upon as a way to reverse this gun violence epidemic that we are experiencing? An epidemic that has been responsible for over 33,000 deaths a year since at least 2014.
Jessica Dancingheart is a personal and organizational consultant. Find out more at www.openingtopossibilities.com.