On December 14, 2012, I was in shock as I learned about the unimaginable events that were unfolding in my hometown. I watched the news in horror wondering how 20 children and six teachers could be murdered in an elementary school.
My emotions fluctuated from sadness to shock to anger as I stood in front of memorials in Sandy Hook Center.
Within days of the shooting in my hometown, I dedicated myself to working to prevent acts of gun violence in America, such as the one that occurred at Sandy Hook.
I educated myself on the issue and learned about loopholes in background checks, the lack of public health research, and how many Americans are affected by gun violence each year. I learned that gun violence disproportionately affects young Americans, and that many communities live with the affects of gun violence every day.
After learning all of the facts about gun violence’s impact on Americans, I lobbied Congress by sharing my story and informing them of how this issue affects young Americans. I persisted, though I was often frustrated by the responses from those Members of Congress with whom I spoke.
The morning after May 23, 2014, I woke up and learned about the terrible events that unfolded in my college town the night before. I watched the news in anger wondering how six students of my alma mater could be murdered in the town I once called home.
As I stood in front of memorials at Isla Vista Deli that were hauntingly similar to the memorials I had stood in front of less than 18 months earlier in Newtown, I was in disbelief that both of my homes had become the sites of mass shootings. My emotions once again fluctuated from sadness to shock to anger, but this time the anger bubbled over.
I was frustrated that no legislation changed at the federal level after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. I was frustrated that gun violence was continuing to disproportionately affect young Americans, like myself. I was frustrated that firearms manufacturers profit off death and use this money to support the National Rifle Association (NRA). I was frustrated that the NRA provides financial incentive to politicians to support irresponsible policies and block common-sense gun violence prevention solutions.
That is when I learned about divestment.
Divestment is as simple as it sounds. In regards to gun violence prevention, it means universities, cities, corporations, etc. remove their investments from publicly traded firearm manufacturers and other companies involved in the gun industry.
Divestment is a powerful way that students who, like me, are frustrated with the current state of politics can make a difference. Generation Progress and the Campaign To Unload are working together to kick off a campus divestment initiative providing resources and toolkits to start your own campus divestment campaign.
Starting a divestment campaign on your campus is an important step that you can take to reduce the gun violence epidemic in America. Whether you’re on campus or an alumni, there are multiple ways to engage in this movement. Students at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) are asking their administration to ban investments in the gun industry after the injury and murder of students in Isla Vista.
You can support UCSB students and young Americans affected by gun violence everywhere by asking your administration to divest. Learn more by downloading the campus divestment toolkit.
For more information about starting a divestment campaign on your campus, email firstname.lastname@example.org.