Let’s Do More Than Pray About Gun Violence

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i had a post all queued up and ready to go this morning. it’s about gifts for soon-to-be-fathers but it felt contrived to press publish on it. i sat for a good hour this morning debating whether or not to publish the article and get on with my day or write about the mass shooting in orlando.  i hesitated to write an article on the subject because i don’t necessarily think i can add much to the social media discussion that hasn’t already been circulated around the internet and yet, i couldn’t sit quiet either.

ending gun violence

i will say that my heart aches that people use guns to kill people. my first encounter with mass gun murder was in 6th grade. i sat huddled on the floor with our school in lockdown, hugging my sobbing best friend – the horrendous events of the columbine shooting happening 8 miles away. her brother thankfully escaped but 13 people lost their lives that day.

every time something like this happens, which is astonishingly frequently in this country, my immediate thought is that the people who have been murdered are people’s children. they leave behind families of their own. they have school desks or offices that they will never occupy again. they have dreams that will never get the chance to come to fruition. they have a favorite mug that will sit in a cupboard, used no more.

i get the sentiment of “pray for <insert horrible tragedy here>” and while i don’t use the word ‘pray’ myself, i do keep those people and their families in my thoughts. however, is that enough?


i think there is value in showing public media support by changing profile photos or posting graphics to show that we stand in solidarity but it is not enough.

my suggestions?

  1. be proactive in policy change. you can do this by educating yourself around the laws, legislation and leaders that we elect (and don’t elect – i.e. the republican nominee is a complete embarrassment to our country and would be detrimental for infinite reasons). you can find your representative here to contact them.
  2. donate or volunteer. seek out organizations that are working to change these policies. if you can’t give your time or talents, give your money. here is one for “everytown for gun safety.
  3. seek to understand. we all have our prejudices – every single one of us (myself included). acknowledge them first then work to dismantle them. it’s not an easy process but i believe this is absolutely part of the solution.
  4. continue to speak out and be visible. again, i do think there is some value in publicly (i.e. social media) showing your support when tragedy strikes. i caution at stopping here, which i am guilty of too. when we add a photo to show this support, it often quiets the guilt and confusion we struggle with when a tragedy happens. it makes us feel proactive but honestly – nothing changes. do this and more.
  5. continue to think good thoughts and pray. again, i am not saying we shouldn’t be keeping these people in our thoughts but there needs to be more than that if we truly want to change what is going on in our country.

when we were in australia last year, a twenty-something came up to me and timidly said, “hey, i’m traveling to america for the first time in a few months. how prepared should i be about all the guns everyone has?”

i was taken aback because yes, i know people who own guns and yes that is a right in our country. as our conversation continued – i realized how he viewed america. he said that because of the media and because of so many deaths in our country resulting from gun violence, he assumed everyone owned a gun and those guns sat as casually on a restaurant table as the salt and pepper shaker did.

he is not the first person outside of america to share these similar thoughts and views with me.

this is part of how our country is portrayed to those outside of it and frankly, i find it appalling and disheartening. i realize it’s not realistic to ban guns but it is repulsive that semi-automatics can be obtained.

i know the argument of “people kill people” but they are doing so with the aid of guns. i know the argument of “well if only those people in the club had a gun too then they could have stopped him.” i don’t know about you, but i no longer live nor want to live in the wild west where people solve things with gun fights. i don’t want to live in a community where people always have one hand on the trigger ‘just in case.’

i want to live in a world where i can see a movie, go to school, send my child to school, go dancing, go to a concert, go shopping – live my life without the fear of being shot dead. that is up to me and that is up to you so let’s start taking more action.


  1. Nina @ Hugs and Lattes

    June 13, 2016 at 9:42 am

    My heart is wrecked by what happened on Saturday evening. It’s hard to see the world with hope whenever things like this happen. I think these are great action steps we can take to educate ourselves, and to do our part in changing the world – or at least our part of the world. Thank you so much for diverting your plans for the blog this morning & sharing this! As someone who does believe in the power of prayer, though, I do have to vouch for what prayer can do. I have seen prayer change the hearts of others, and even change my own heart. Prayer has radically healed physical maladies when the doctors can’t give a scientific explanation. In this particular tragedy, prayer isn’t going to bring back the lives lost. I know God’s heart is broken over what has happened, though. In circumstances like this, prayer has given me a perspective of hope.
    Nina @ Hugs and Lattes recently posted…Releasing Anxiety

    • chelsea

      June 13, 2016 at 12:06 pm

      thanks nina – i appreciate you reading and also for your thoughtful comment. i am definitely still advocating that people pray/think good thoughts/send good vibes/etc. i have just noticed that i believe we need to that AND…more. i am happy you have found hope through prayer. my hope is that we do things that satisfy our own needs (highly important) and then take action to elicit change. thanks again for your comment 🙂

  2. Paula Howley

    June 13, 2016 at 9:42 am

    I don’t think I knew that about you Chelsea. I can’t even imagine that you were forced to participate in school gun violence by huddling on the floor in lockdown. Terrified. It must have affected your psyche greatly. And all those children- especially those who were there. And of course, most of all, the ones who were murdered.
    From this point of view, Canada, I don’t see the U.S. even giving up their guns. Not even their semi-automatics. After Sandy Hook, when little ones were killed, I think the bottom blew out. I feel for you all. I’m so sorry.
    Paula Howley recently posted…Synthesizing an Unmistakable Voice

    • chelsea

      June 13, 2016 at 12:09 pm

      it was intense for sure and rocked the community to its core. i lived in the next town over and we of course still felt the ripple effect. i am sure it definitely affected me in ways that are still unknown. part of me agrees with you about not giving up guns (that’s the realist in me) and then the optimist in me hopes there are actions we can take to get a better handle on controlling them because it’s repulsive. sandy hook was…i don’t even have words. thanks for your comment paula <3

  3. Elyse

    June 13, 2016 at 12:31 pm

    I honestly can’t even comprehend the magnitude of heartache that their families and the injured are going through right now. I’m sure this will be an unpopular opinion(from someone who doesn’t live in the US) but without serious changes to your second amendment, it’s going to keep happening and that just makes me SO freakin’ mad. Why can’t people see guns kill people. If you want then for hunting why do you need a handgun?

    I’m also so sad that a preteen Chelsea, had to go through those types of lockdowns. How scary!

    Sigh. I just can’t stop thinking about this tragedy but I’m glad you have some great advice to put words into actions!
    Elyse recently posted…The 5 Emotional Stages of Moving

    • chelsea

      June 13, 2016 at 5:17 pm

      i can’t either elyse- it’s always so so horrible. completely and absolutely agree with you that things need to change regarding our second amendment right. it’s infuriating. thanks for your encouraging words elyse – they are greatly appreciated.
      chelsea recently posted…Let’s Do More Than Pray About Gun Violence

  4. Sheila

    June 13, 2016 at 1:07 pm

    You made some good points and great suggestions here, Chelsea. Thank you for sharing. I agree that’s a better choice than staying quiet.

    • chelsea

      June 13, 2016 at 5:18 pm

      i appreciate you taking the time to read and comment, sheila. there is no simply solution but continuing on the same path is insanity.

  5. Vivien

    June 13, 2016 at 2:08 pm

    I heard about it on the news when I woke up that morning, and my first thought ran along the lines of “oh no, not again.” And in my mind’s eye, the one key word that should not have been was the word “again”. I wholeheartedly agree with your post. Showing support by changing our profile pictures is a good start, but if that’s what we are all doing before going back to our daily lives without changing, then we aren’t going to get very far.
    Vivien recently posted…Power of the Positive

    • chelsea

      June 13, 2016 at 5:19 pm

      how sad and right you are about the ‘not again’ statement, vivien. also well said that if we are going back to the same thing in our daily lives, then we aren’t going to get very far. appreciate you taking the time to read and comment vivien.
      chelsea recently posted…Let’s Do More Than Pray About Gun Violence

  6. Courtney {Alkeks Abroad}

    June 14, 2016 at 1:30 am

    Being over here has given me a different perspecpective on guns and shootings. I have met multiple people here in Australia that don’t have any desire to visit the US because they think it’s unsafe because of all the shootings. At first I thought that was silly until I started paying attention to the Houston news I still followed. Seems like every day there’s a different person killed by a gun. Living in a country with such strict gun laws really does make you feel so much safer, and you can see the difference in the way the schools and other community places are set up.
    Courtney {Alkeks Abroad} recently posted…My High Tea Baby Shower

    • chelsea

      June 17, 2016 at 8:59 am

      oh wow, i can only imagine what a different perspective it is to live in australia. you are so right that every day, someone else is killed by a gun (what’s even more sad is when a child accidentally kills someone or him/herself). it’s horrible. thanks for sharing your perspective courtney

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  8. Claire

    June 15, 2016 at 7:08 am

    “hey, i’m traveling to america for the first time in a few months. how prepared should i be about all the guns everyone has?”

    That quote/situation totally caught me by surprise and also put this whole situation into a different perspective for me. Good for you to write about this sensitive topic. I love how you listed ways for how people can actively take action to move towards policy change.

    Here is an article I read from the Dalai Lama that brings hope and light to our world <3 : https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-dalai-lama-why-im-hopeful-about-the-worlds-future/2016/06/13/e380973a-30a2-11e6-8ff7-7b6c1998b7a0_story.html

    • chelsea

      June 17, 2016 at 9:04 am

      it totally caught me by surprise too, claire. so sad and such a stark awakening of how others see our country. i appreciate you taking the time to read and comment and also for sharing an uplifting article that adds light to the world. that made me smile 🙂

      love this part “It is not enough simply to pray. There are solutions to many of the problems we face; new mechanisms for dialogue need to be created, along with systems of education to inculcate moral values. These must be grounded in the perspective that we all belong to one human family and that together we can take action to address global challenges.”

      • Claire

        June 17, 2016 at 9:17 am

        Right back at you. I feel so happy you took the time to share one of the quotes you loved From the article. It really is insightful and goes right along with your words about taking action.