TW: The following are stories of my own experiences growing up with guns as part of everyday life in Queens. Beyond that I share actionable steps for moving from feeling powerless at times like these.
I was sitting in the bar area of a bowling alley waiting for the boy I liked to finish talking to one of his friends. I couldn’t sit at the actual bar cause I was not legally old enough to drink.
This was not the best place for a sixteen year old girl to be hanging out at night but, like I said, there was this boy I liked. Plus, they made really good hot wings.
There were families bowling with their kids. There were single folks hanging out at the bar and not bowling. There was a group of young people closer to my age that had rented a couple lanes. This was the scene at this old bowling alley in Queens, NY.
We were getting ready to leave, and my date stepped away to go to the bathroom.
I waited by the shoe rental counter. I wasn’t scrolling Instagram because phones weren’t a thing then, and Instagram didn’t exist. Instead, my head was up, and I was people watching. Taking in the scene.
The scene included two young men from the group of bowlers closer to my age, arguing. One of them pulled a gun out of his waist, lifted it up, and shot.
In an instant, the collective instincts of every person in that bowling alley kicked in. We all started running for the only exit. As I was running, I heard gunshots behind me. I remember being terrified that one of them had hit me. In the melee of the crowd running for the door, I tripped and fell. Within seconds, a man snatched me up by my collar, placed me back on my feet and shoved me towards the door. Gunshots continued behind us.
Once outside, we started to feel safe again. I quickly scanned the parking lot for my “boy.” We found each other outside, jumped in his car and left.
I will never forget that night.
I wish that was my only encounter with guns growing up, but it isn’t.
There’s the time a friend of a friend, the same age as me, accidentally shot himself in the stairwell of the local housing projects. Luckily, he survived.
Or the time a boy my friend was dating pulled out a huge gun in the elevator with us. He wanted to show off. He laughed while he brandished it, and I just knew one of us was gonna get accidentally shot in that elevator.
Or the time a friend got shot in the abdomen on the corner of my street, and a group of us walked him to the hospital. (There was no other option).
There are more stories, but these are the ones I remember.
There have been 214 mass shootings—defined by Gun Violence Archive as one in which at least 4 people were shot—in the US within the first 145 days of the year.
Only five months into 2022, over 17,000 people have been shot and killed in the United States. And in the last six months, more than 45,000 people have been wounded by guns.
This country has long been in desperate need of gun control. How many more horrific stories must we witness or, God forbid, experience first hand? Corrupt and apathetic politicians ensure that gun violence will continue.
So what can we do? Feeling powerless at times like these is what bothers me most. So here is a short list of things you can do:
- March. March for Our Lives is hosting a march in D.C. and sister marches all over the world on Saturday, June 11th. You can learn more and sign up here.
- Call your Senator or Representative. This week U.S. based members of the Hello Seven team, called their Senator and told them to pass H.R. 8 and H.R. 1446. Find your Senators here and give them a call with this sample script: “Hello, I live in (city and state) and I urge (Senator or Representative______) to pass full, common sense gun reform to help save lives. Such reform must not only include a ban on so-called bump stocks, but also universal background checks, an assault weapons ban and federal research on gun violence prevention. I also oppose the silencer bill and the concealed carry reciprocity bill, which are likely to lead to more deaths. We have the human right to live free from gun violence and the US government has an obligation to protect that right. Thank you.”
- Donate. Donate to organizations who have been fighting for gun safety like Everytown for Gun Safety, March for Our Lives or Sandy Hook Promise.
- Consider running for office. Listen to the latest episode of the Hello Seven podcast where I interview one of our Club members, Grace Van Cleave. Grace is running for Iowa State Senate and shares her journey from entrepreneurship to running for office. I think more of us need to consider running for office—we need more politicians that actually represent the needs of their constituents. Listen to this episode, I guarantee that you will be inspired. (Note that this episode was recorded before we all learned about Uvalde).
- Vote. Do not forget these tragedies when it is time for us to vote. Vote for politicians that care about our humanity and who are willing to stand up and fight against the gun lobby.
Lastly, stay on your entrepreneurial journey. Keep working towards your financial freedom. When you have excess wealth, you can put your money towards electing politicians who actually represent your interests. You can create and/or fund organizations that are doing good work in the world. There is no knight in shining armor, we are gonna have to save ourselves.
PS: A reminder that the doors to the Club are still open by request of folks who understandably missed the Tuesday night deadline because of what happened in the world. We’re giving you plenty of space and time to consider joining. We’re not gonna send you a bunch of emails, but the doors are open until Tuesday, June 1, at 10am EST