Views expressed in The Advocate’s opinion articles are those of the writers and do not necessarily represent the views of The Advocate or our parent company, Equal Pride.
If you are a well-adjusted adult, you are heartbroken, horrified traumatized, and once again outraged at the latest mass shooting. In Uvalde, Texas, 19 children and two of their teachers were gunned down so viciously, so immediately, and so intensely that DNA had to be sought from some of the families to ID the victims.
Jake Tapper of CNN wondered aloud during his broadcast May 25 if photos should actually be shown of the child victims where they lay. His question hung in the air of silence because, of course, he was talking to a camera. But his words penetrated me as a viewer and voter. If America could see what the first responders saw (that caused one of them to pass out during a briefing in the hours after the event), then maybe we will not just ask but demand that changes be made to stop the carnage, whether it’s one gun death, 113 gun deaths a day scattered across America, or the mass shootings like the one in Texas that take place nearly every day in our country.
But we actually don’t need to see images to rally a majority of Americans. Most of us already want background checks. Most of us want red flag laws. Most of us want safe storage laws. Why are none of these things being instituted? Why, when the majority has been the majority for so long on these issues to help stop the deaths, has nothing changed? You may throw up your hands in disgust. You may throw up your hands in disbelief. And yet we continue to vote the same people into office who never do anything to stop it. And therein lies what you can do.
The USA is a democracy, yet it is the most unsafe place on earth for children. Firearms are the number 1 cause of death in children. And Black children are far more likely to die from gunfire in America than white ones.
OK, enough about what most of us agree on. You’re outraged. You’re sympathetic. You want to help. Now, here’s what you can do: Vote and lock.
Vote is to join the majority who want commonsense gun reform and commit to vote in every single election until you die. If you vote for those people who share your and most people’s views on what should be done to stop gunfire deaths in America, you will get those elected officials because the majority will outvote the minority who have repeatedly done nothing. Just commit to vote. And each time, take a few minutes to understand each candidate’s platform and vote for gun safety.
Lock: Lock up your guns. The simple act of safely storing and locking your guns will save countless lives. It has been long established that if we all lock and safely store our firearms, which should also be stored under lock and key and separate from equally locked ammunition, we can save half the lives lost every day in America, with many of those being suicides.
In fact, suicide is a good example of an act that usually happens when someone is impaired. Look at the toxicology reports on those who have killed themselves. Many of them have been on heavy amounts of either prescription drugs, illegal drugs, alcohol, or a combination. Locking up and separating guns from ammunition could give an impaired person just a few extra minutes for loving thoughts, loving interventions, or loving actions to stop them from taking their own lives. But even more tragic, perhaps, are the approximately eight children a day in America who innocently and wrongfully die or are injured due to an unlocked firearm. We can save half the lives a day and half the injuries a day if we just lock up our firearms.
Vote and lock. These are two simple acts that can save lives in America. It is in your hands, literally and figuratively, and democratically. I beg of you, make these pledges to vote and lock, and we will have a safer America — immediately.
Michael Kelley is a member and leader of the Gun Safety Alliance and co-owner and president of Equal Pride, parent company of The Advocate.