Weekly Resistance: How to Take Action Feb. 26-Mar. 2

The days since the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, have been grim, but the emerging focused wave of student activism is highly encouraging: Youth are rising up with thoughtful, organized and powerful campaigns as they demand gun reform. In their honor this week, I’m taking a look at several ways you can take action on†gun control and other youth issues.

You can find information on how to†contact your officials at all levels of government here. As always, if you havenít had a chance yet,†sign up for our newsletter†and stay up-to-date on the latest!

1. Gun Control

There are hundreds of millions of guns in the U.S., with some estimating that there are more guns than people. If you want to reduce gun violence, you need to reduce the number of guns in circulation.

Know: Federal gun control legislation is lax, leaving this issue up to the states. States with tougher laws struggle with unregulated guns crossing the borders, highlighting the problems with weak federal law. Most gun owners support the use of†comprehensive background checks, a simple measure that would keep guns out of the hands of people with a violent history. Many Americans also favor banning assault weapons like those used in the majority of rampage killings like this one. While these shootings dominate news coverage, they actually account for a relatively small percentage –†less than one percent†– of gun deaths.

Act: Contact your legislators, and ask them to take action on this issue by introducing or cosponsoring legislation that will close the gun show loophole, institute true mandatory background checks, introduce waiting periods for firearms purchases and ban assault weapons.

Join your fellow Care2 activists in signing the following petitions:

2. Unseat the NRA

The National Rifle Association may have started as a gun safety organization advocating for responsible ownership, but it’s morphed into a remorseless lobby peddling death and hiding behind the cover of the Second Amendment. It’s time to get the NRA out of politics.

Know: The NRA spends millions on buying members of Congress, with an incredibly powerful reach — despite the fact that its policy priorities differ not just from most Americans, but most gun owners. The organization routinely exhibits racism and misogyny. And after every high-profile shooting,†the group†just doubles down.

Act: Look up your representatives to determine how much money they receive from the NRA, if any. If they do take NRA donations, call them up and ask if they’re planning to stop — and if they’ll donate the funds they’ve already received to organizations like the Brady Campaign to End Gun Violence, Americans for Responsible Solutions,†March for Our Lives†or Black Lives Matter, which work extensively on gun violence issues.

Join your fellow Care2 activists in signing petitions like these:

3. Mental Health

In the aftermath of mass shootings, people are quick to blame mental illness — including the NRA, the president and many politicians. But the truth is more complicated.

Know: Mentally ill people are not actually more violent. In fact, they’re†statistically less likely to engage in gun crime†and†less likely to engage in mass murder than many might think. Instead, factors like anger, misogyny and frustration are more common contributors.

The biggest risk with mentally ill people and guns is suicide: 2/3 of gun deaths are suicide, and guns account for about 50 percent of all suicides. Young adults with unsecured guns in the house — even when they have no history of mental health issues — are at†higher risk of suicide. The onset of mental illness often falls in people’s teen years.

Act: Talk to the people around you: Ask them to stop scapegoating mental illness in the conversation about gun violence†and to start thinking about more meaningful solutions that work, like identifying risky behavior and using it to bar people from gun ownership. Contact your legislators, and ask them to focus on gun reform that identifies problem activities, not “problem people.”†Encourage policymakers†to condemn the president’s reckless and hateful comments on mental illness.

But as long as we’re talking about mental illness,†consider asking for better mental health services, especially for young people and people of color. The prison system is the largest provider of mental health services in the country. Additionally, many police shootings involve mental illness, and mental illness is a huge factor in homelessness. Preserving the Affordable Care Act, retaining Medicaid coverage and expanding mental health interventions could benefit everyone’s quality of life.

Join your fellow Care2 activists in signing these petitions:

4. Education

Without equal access to a robust, comprehensive and empowering education, youth are at a profound disadvantage that lasts for life. That’s why many are worried about the actions of Betsy DeVos –†one of the wealthiest Trump cabinet members†who’s getting wealthier by the day as she enriches herself at taxpayer expense.

Know: DeVos recently commented that arming teachers is an option for dealing with gun violence. She’s a champion of charter schools and an opponent of public education. She’s supported†for-profit colleges and rolled back guidance on campus sexual assault, as well as†the rights of disabled students.†DeVos†isn’t familiar with the history of racism in education. Her combination of incompetence and profiteering instincts is gravely worrying.

Act: Contact your elected officials. Ask them to keep a close eye on the Department of Education, and encourage them to consider passing legislation that will explicitly protect civil rights in the classroom.

Support the work of teachers across the country who are fighting to unionize and protect their rights on K-12 and college campuses. Defend campus free speech. And support youth-led initiatives like the VOYCE Project in Chicago, which is working to advance education and racial justice.

5. Voting Rights

Some of the young adults marching on state capitols and walking out of schools right now don’t have the right to vote, and there are some advocates who’d like to see the voting age lowered.

Know: Advocacy groups like FairVote argue the voting age should be reduced to 16. Research suggests that people who are allowed to vote earlier are more conscientious†than regular voters. And voting at 16 would give people a chance to get accustomed to the habit before leaving for college.

One reason†that the voting age was lowered from 21 to 18 under the 26th Amendment in 1971 was the assertion that people could be drafted for military service in wars they didn’t vote for. And with gun violence now turning classrooms into war zones, a 16-year-old limit doesn’t seem so unreasonable.

While the 26th Amendment says voting rights for people 18 and up†”shall not be denied or abridged” on the basis of age, it doesn’t say that people under 18†can’t†vote. Reductions of voting age to 16 or 17 have occurred in several cities and states, such as Iowa, where people who will be 18 on a general election can participate in caucuses at 17.

Act: You have the power to push your city or county to lower the voting age in many states. You can also contact your state legislators†to ask for a low extending the franchise to young adults. Or take it straight to Washington, by asking your elected officials to introduce an amendment guaranteeing access to voting rights for people 16 and up. While you’re at it, ask them to take action on felon disenfranchisement and voter suppression tactics used to keep people away from the polls.

Photo Credit: Laurie Shaull/Flickr


Paulo R
Paulo R12 days ago

petitions signed, ty

KimJ M
KimJ M13 days ago


KimJ M
KimJ M13 days ago


KimJ M
KimJ M13 days ago

Already signed

Patrice Z
Patrice Z15 days ago

Petitions previously signed. Great information.

Emma Z
Emma Z16 days ago

Signed. Thanks.

Karen Swenson
Karen Swenson16 days ago

I just heard President Orangutan say, he would have marched right into that building--"Without a Gun" to save those kids. So I suggest the next time we have a school shooting, lets fly Draft venereal Dodger, Trump, directly to the school, without a weapon, to save the day!

Elaine W
Elaine W17 days ago

Petitions all signed and thanks.

Brian F
Brian F17 days ago

We need to investigate the corrupt Democrats like disgraced liars Debbie Wasserman Shultz who scheduled the debates to favor Hillary, and who is in the pockets of payday lenders who rip off the poor, and Donna Brazille, who gave Hillary debate question. The Democrats caused this crook Trump to be elected, by becoming corrupt and corporate owned like the Republicans, cheating Bernie Sanders out of his primary, and anointing a crook, Hillary, who supported Monsanto, natural gas fracking, the TPP, and the Iraq war. The Democrats never pay any price for their corruption. We need to change that.

Clare O
Clare O18 days ago

America doesn't export anything except arms and movies. Arms are its biggest industry.