You Can Do Something About It

Why are we fighting about guns, gun ownership and how to fix the problem?  As gun violence is a uniquely American problem, we are dealing with it in our uniquely American way... as a competition.  Shouldn't "winning" be defined by an end to the senseless loss of human life that occurs in this country every 16 minutes every day?  Instead, we are taking sides and taunting the other team like it is a football game.

In the days after 14 people were killed and 21 people wounded in San Bernardino we were back to pointing fingers of blame instead of taking a long hard look in the mirror and asking what we can do as individuals and as a society to make it stop.

As parents, we ask our children to resolve their conflicts with respect and to work together to find solutions. Our children should demand the same of us. However, as yet another mass homicide captures our collective horror and outrage, we refuse to come together.

Politicians aren't the only people that have a responsibility to address the issue of gun violence. Americans have to check their egos at the door and ask themselves "how can I help?" In each community, the answers to this question will be as different as this country is diverse.

What will not end the carnage is another hashtag, tweet, vilifying facebook post and certainly not replacing pictures of guns in politicians hands with sex toys.

I am not suggesting that your contributions have to take the place of your current roles and responsibilities or that you have to suddenly become an expert on gun violence. Start by thinking about what is within your wheelhouse that you can do or offer. First and foremost, if you have a gun in your home make sure it is secured! Give your children a plan as to how to handle things if they find themselves in a home with an unsecured weapon. Don't scare them, empower them with information.

Reconnect with your family and your community. Is there anything happening on social media that is upsetting your kids? Ask your children about their friends. If you learn that a child of a family in your school is going through a tough time see if you can offer some kind of support. If you hear that a classmate of your child's is suddenly acting out inappropriately or has had a series of unexplained absences, then talk to the administration and make sure that they are aware of it. This is not being nosy. This is being a concerned parent.

If you work out at a gym, talk to the management about offering passes to the local Boys and Girls clubs and organizing special classes that will appeal to their age group and interests. Not only will this keep kids off the streets, but, it will also help with their self-esteem. If you have time to be a big brother or big sister...DO IT. A positive role model is missing from the lives of so many at-risk youth. If you work at a company that has the ability to give internship programs, ask that an effort is made to recruit from inner city schools. It is a fact that gun violence rises dramatically during the summer months. If you have any creative talents such as music, art, dance, look into volunteering at an after school or weekend program. And, if you have money not time, give. Look into scholarship programs, see if you can contribute to a food bank, help repair community athletic facilities.

The majority of the lives we lose to gun violence in this country are due to suicide and inner city violence. There are a myriad of reasons for this and not one solution. However, it is impossible to refute that if we spend more time and effort thinking about the needs of others it will lead to a stronger support system for those who are tempted to pick up a gun no matter what their motivation.

This is not a game. This is real life.