The massacre in Orlando was horrific. But we have to do more than shake our heads and post about how our hearts are with our LGBTQ friends and family. It’s not enough to rally about gun control on Facebook. Do you know who your senators are? Do you know who your reps are in the House of Representatives? Do you know how they vote when it comes to gun control? Have you considered running for office in a local election?
Here’s what you can do — today — to effect change. Whether you support gun reform or not, know the facts.
1. Understand the weaponry used in shooting attacks and decide where you stand. Should the AR-15 used in Orlando be banned? Click here for background information so that you can have an informed position.
2. Who is your rep in the House of Representatives? Click here to find out.
3. Then click on their page to see their recent bills and votes.
4. And although this site was last updated in 2013, you should still check it out to get an idea on where your rep stands historically on guns.
5. The Library of Congress has kept voting records since the 1800s. Plug your Rep's name here and check out their entire voting record.
6. You can even download the Library of Congress app to get a daily update of your rep's voting decisions! Most results are posted online within two hours of the vote. (iPhone only for now)
7. Every state in the union gets two senators. Who are yours? Click here to find out.
8. Then plug your senator’s name into the Congress website for their contact info and voting stats.
9. Don't like what you see with your representatives? Consider running for office. And don't blow it off by thinking it's too much to handle. You don't have to run for mayor of a major city. There are many positions at the local level that can still make a difference. Click here and find out which local positions in your state could possibly make sense for you.
Unable to do any of the above right now? That's OK. Check out this Twitter thread from author Ana Mardoll, who published an extensive list of do-it-now things in large and small ways. (And yep, also read the oppositional tweets that she RT'd into her timeline. Hearing all sides is helpful)
Ultimately, it's time to do more than cluck our tongues and shake our heads. If you truly feel strongly about the events surrounding the Orlando massacre think beyond offering sympathy. Real change takes real action.
(Photo: Gerardo Mora/Getty Images)