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Don’t let shock and outrage fade before we get real policy change to prevent gun violence

In the wake of this week’s deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas School in Parkland, Florida, we are exhausted and frustrated by the inaction of policymakers in the face of an epidemic of gun violence. As an organization that understands the power of prevention, we know that these deaths were a predictable and preventable outcome of our country’s unwillingness to regulate firearms responsibly and our culture’s obsession with guns and gun violence. We know what works to prevent gun violence and save lives. It’s time to act on that knowledge. And we are inspired by the young people crying out for change. This insistence gives us hope that, together, we can finally make the changes that will save lives.

Let’s make sure the passionate cries for change we’re hearing from all over the country – including from students who survived the attack – don’t fade away until all schools, all churches, all concert venues, and all neighborhoods in our country are safe from gun violence. We need to stand with the students who are calling for action on gun control, saying “my generation won’t stand for this,” and amplify their voices. Another student said, “We're not going to just let the grief wash over us and then fade away. We're going to do something about it… if this has to become the poster child for fixing the gun problems in our community and nation, whatever it takes."

Please use the points below to:

  • Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper
  • Post a call for common-sense gun control on Facebook or Twitter
  • Have a conversation with a friend or relative who opposes gun regulations
  • Contact your state and federal legislators and demand action

Together, we can be a powerful force for spreading the message that now is the time to prevent gun violence. 

Recommendations for preventing gun violence

  • Recognize gun violence as a critical and preventable public health problem. Gun violence is a leading cause of premature death in the country – US youth between the ages of 15 and 19 are 82 times more likely to die from gun homicides than their peers in other developed countries. Yet, unlike other preventable causes of death, we haven't mustered the political will to address it. We should establish a National Institute of Violence Prevention at the National Institutes of Health to research root causes and community solutions to prevent gun violence. 
  • Restore the CDC’s freedom to study this issue and provide science-based guidance. The CDC, the nation's public health agency, is now restricted from making recommendations on sensible ways to reduce gun violence. This must change. We should fund the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to track, assess, and develop strategies to prevent gun violence, just as we do with influenza and tainted spinach. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said yesterday that he was open to expanding federal gun violence research, if not advocacy. He should be applauded for his courageous stand and held accountable to help implement this change.
  • Ban high-capacity magazines, expand the 24-hour gun background check to make it universal, and reinstitute the assault weapons ban immediately. We must insist that assault weapons have no place in our communities.
  • Invest in resilient communities to promote mental health and wellbeing, and expand access to high quality, culturally competent mental health treatment. Mental health is not at the root of our country’s high rate of gun violence, and people with mental illness are more likely to be the victims of violence, rather than the perpetrators. But we know we can do more to foster mental health and wellbeing in the first place, and support those who are struggling. Addressing trauma and adverse childhood experiences, social isolation, and other determinants of mental health are key to helping all people navigate adversity, heal, and flourish.

For more recommendations, see our full set of recommendations for preventing gun violence.

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