In the wake of the most recent mass shooting event that has plunged an entire community, and nation, into a period of mourning, some are turning to the connective power of the internet to demand an end to the deadly status quo. Here are 10 meaningful gun control petitions you can sign right now, to demonstrate your support of, and solidarity with, the legions of Americans who have had their lives torn apart by the deadly realities of gun violence in America.
These petitions have been started by a diverse array of people, on a number of websites; but the end goal is the same: to keep family, friends, and neighbors safe from the tragic consequences of gun culture and demand immediate action from our elected representatives to help solve this problem.
Petitions are important because they offer the chance for citizens to explicitly state their support for an idea, or a proposal — and gun sense allies need all the support they can get. Connecticut senator Chris Murphy's 15-hour filibuster of regular, everyday business to protest Congressional inaction on gun reform may have won concessions from the GOP, but at the end of the day, it is unlikely that these amendments will pass the 60 vote supermajority threshold.
Check out some of these citizen-sponsored petitions below, and add your name to the growing consensus of Americans who are sick of burying friends, lighting candles, and offering "thoughts and prayers" in the wake of unspeakable violence and horror.
1. Support Incentives For States To Implement Universal Background Checks
Students UNITE is sponsoring this petition to the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate to ask for support for Sen. Chuck Schumer's universal background check legislation. Created in the wake of the Umpqua Community College shooting in Oregon last year, Schumer's bill would offer incentives for individual states to join a voluntary universal background check system.
2. Ask Congress To Stop Blocking Research On Gun Violence
Created by Sarah Clements, this Change.org petition is asking Americans to put pressure on Congress to fund research into the public health effects of gun violence. Clements' mother was a teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newton, Connecticut, who survived the shooting — six of her colleagues and 20 schoolchildren did not. Research into the public health effects of gun violence has been banned since 1996.
3. Tell Congress To Ban Assault Weapons Now
Military-grade assault weapons have absolutely no place in civilized society — at least, that is what supporters of this petition want to impart to their Congressional representation. A national ban on the manufacture of assault weapons and large-capacity magazines was signed by President Bill Clinton in 1994, but expired in 2004 due to a pre-arranged "sunset" clause.
4. Ban Civilian Ownership Of AR-15 Assault Rifles
For those who don't know, the AR-15 is essentially a modified M16 submachine gun designed for the civilian market. Designed in 1957, several manufacturers make slightly different models with differing specs, however the one common denominator is that this class of weapons have absolutely no purpose in civilized society. This petition is asking the White House for an outright ban on civilian ownership of this deadly weapon.
5. Ban All Assault Weapon And Ammunition Sales To Civilians
This WhiteHouse.gov petition seeks to ban all assault weapon and ammunition sales to all non-military personnel in the United States. While it is unclear why exactly active or former military would need commercial access to these weapons, this petition is asking for a significant change in how we deal with firearms in this country.
6. Reinstate The AWB — Now!
This is Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) in 1994, the year that the Assault Weapons Ban was signed into law. The AWB — a legislative experiment, as it were — expired in 2004 as designed. So, since 2004, weapons manufacturers have been able to sell their products to the civilian population — and make a killing (literally and figuratively) while doing so. “That category of firearms has been a primary growth engine and profit driver for firearms companies for the last seven or eight years," said Rommel Dionisio, a securities analyst at Wedbush Morgan Securities, to the Huffington Post in 2012.
7. Ban Assault Weapons And Large Capacity Magazines In California
Student Tiffany Kanamaru, from Cupertino, California, started this Change.org petition asking Gov. Jerry Brown and the California state legislature to enact a state-level assault weapons ban mirroring the federal law which sunsetted in 2004.
8. Ban Concealed Carry On Wisconsin College Campuses
Eliana Locke and the College Democrats of Wisconsin are asking people to help them make sure that the Wisconsin legislature is not allowed to override the wishes of students and educators. Currently, there is a blanket ban on all weapons in the University of Wisconsin public university system; however, bills currently in the legislature may make it illegal to ban concealed weapons on school campuses.
9. Keep Semiautomatic Weapons Off Campus — Even For Cops
This petition was created by Marley Kimelman, a student at Northeastern University in Massachusetts. Kimelman and others aren't comfortable with any kind of semiautomatic weapons on campus — even if they are in the trained hands of law enforcement officers.
10. Tell Cabela's To Follow Best Practices When It Comes To Background Checks
Cabela's is a national retailer, and a major retailer of guns at that. Their internal policy is to sell guns to customers after three business days have passed — even if a background check is incomplete. This petition, started by the gun sense group Everytown for Gun Safety, asks the CEO Thomas Millner to implement new policy which would require a successful, completed, background check before any gun sale would go through.
Petitions are just one way that citizens can help nudge their elected representatives towards action. Writing letters to the editor of your local papers, writing to your representatives, and organizing your community against the rampant gun violence that plagues towns and cities the whole country over are some next steps that can be taken on once you've run out of petitions to sign.