The Texas Church Shooting Makes Voting In Your Local Election More Important Than Ever

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Watching coverage of the most recent mass shooting at a Sutherland Springs, Texas church on Sunday can make a person feel helpless, or unable to influence major change. But it's important to remember that in the days and weeks following the Texas church shooting, you can take action by doing something as simple as voting — fortunately, there's an election coming up.

Actor Kal Penn took to Twitter after the Sunday church shooting and hinted at more concrete and material efforts to address America's gun violence issue. The actor had a suggestion for those growing increasingly resentful toward public official responses that hinge more on prayers and less on legislative measures to address endemic gun violence.

The actor linked to the website, I Will Vote, which helps American citizens navigate the terrain of voting in their states. If you're unsure about your voter registration status, you can simply click the tab "Check if I'm registered to vote" and it will lead you to the landing page for the registration status of the state you're in. If you feel strongly about gun violence in the country, Tuesday's election day is the day to make your voice heard.

Through elections, locals can vote for political figures that have expressed consistent concern and dedication about the issue of mass shootings in America. Conversely, it's also worth noting that it helps to keep track of politicians who don't take direct and clear steps on gun violence. Making calls to such representatives and senators and demanding them to take a stand is also vital. If you don't have a script in mind, don't worry — it could help to simply tell your representatives and senators that you do not find it acceptable that a person in America is 25 times more likely to become a statistic of gun violence.

State-level gun laws can help address such incident by keeping firearms out of the reach of those with criminal records. In fact, time and again, observers have brought up the point that if a citizen wants a change in gun violence in the country, they should make gun control a primary subject in local elections.

In addition to voting on Tuesday, you can support local efforts to pass laws for "extreme risk protection orders," which prohibit at-risk individuals from gaining access to firearms. And on a social level, there needs to be involvement from everyday people to understand and identify alarming behavior. Such an initiative, for example, came in the wake of the Sandy Hook school shooting in 2012. Titled as the Sandy Hook Promise, this program educates people on identifying red flags on social media and alerting law enforcement agencies.

Being a single issue voter seems like a nuclear option; opponents may argue that it's too stark of an ideological position. But considering the fact that in 2017 alone, over 270 mass shootings have taken place, the severity of the situation becomes too dark to brush aside. Something needs to change, and you can make that happen.

If you think a candidate in your state will fall short on the issue of gun control, then don't give them your vote. By doing so, your refusal becomes a matter of principle. Furthermore, if you bring your friends and family together for the cause, the attention toward it could increase and eventually it could become an undeniable and unignorable issue for local politicians. So, on Tuesday, make sure your local representatives understand what issues are most important to the community that they serve.