As the holidays are approaching and we prepare to gather together with family members who have varying opinions on our current political climate, it’s important to be informed on issues we care about. We all have points of contention within our families, but discussing important issues, such as gun violence prevention, at your Thanksgiving table can help contribute to the national discussion and encourage support of common sense gun legislation. While this topic may seem scary and daunting, here are some tips and points to bring up in your conversations. The following pieces of legislation are all widely supported across the country and will help maintain the safety of every citizen, gun owners and non-gun owners alike. 

This article will highlight three legislative actions that will decrease gun violence across the country. These policies are widely supported by people across the country, and they are most frequent the areas where gun violence prevention advocates can find common ground. This article will provide you with the information you need to effectively convey the purpose and importance of these policies. 

ERPO Laws: HR 1236

One of the main laws in the House is the ERPO, or Red Flag laws. The Extreme Risk Protection Order is a law that is intended to increase safety for all civilians and benefits everyone, including gun owners. Essentially, it authorizes family members, those living in the house or law enforcement to petition the court to take away a firearm if they think a person presents a danger to themselves or others. In addition, it will prohibit the person from buying, selling or possessing firearms for a certain amount of time. 

Many instances of gun violence could be prevented with this law because often the person who commits such an act shows signs of being a danger before following their intentions. This law could prevent tragedies before they occur and empower family members to protect their loved ones from harming themselves or others. 

The NRA does not like this bill because they think it violates the 2nd Amendment and does not follow due process. However, the courts must conduct a full legal trial before deeming the person unsafe. When an ERPO is enacted on an individual, a judge can issue an emergency order to immediately remove guns from the person’s home until a hearing happens a few weeks later. At the hearing, the judge will determine whether the individual is a danger to themselves or others, and can then issue an order to remove the firearms from their possession for a year. In about 30% of cases, the judge will not issue this order if they determine that the person is no longer a danger, and the firearms will be returned to the individual in question.

High Capacity Magazine Ban: HR 1186

A High Capacity Magazine Ban is a legislative measure that would be very effective in preventing deaths from gun violence in this country. High capacity magazines are defined as magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition. When shooters are able to fire this many rounds without having to reload, the body count increases dramatically. In Dayton, Ohio, a shooting took place earlier this year where the shooter was able to fire 41 rounds in 32 seconds, killing nine people and injuring 27 more, because of his high capacity magazine. 

High capacity magazines have been used in all of the top 10 deadliest mass shootings in the last decade. It has been shown that the more times a shooter has to reload, the more people can escape harm. In cases like the shooting in Sandy Hook Elementary School, the seconds in which the shooter reloaded his gun meant that students were able to escape and run out of the classroom door. Similarly, in the shooting in Parkland, Florida, students were able to escape down a stairwell in the seconds of time between rounds when the shooter was reloading. A high capacity magazine ban would prohibit the sale and possession of magazines that hold more than 10 rounds, and would make a big difference in preventing deaths from gun violence.

Universal Background Checks: HR 8

Background checks are another well-supported measure that would go a long way in preventing further gun violence. Over 90% of Americans support imposing universal background checks, which would mean that all gun sales, including those between private individuals and at gun shows, would be subject to a background check. Twenty-one states and Washington DC have extended this requirement to at least some private gun transactions, yet the federal government has not taken sufficient action to address this loophole. All background checks do is ensure that people who are already prohibited from owning a gun — including those convicted of felonies, for example — are less likely to be able to obtain a gun through some private loopholes. 

This policy is an easy way to ensure simply that our laws are being followed. Lawful gun owners wouldn’t be impacted by this policy, except by possibly having to wait some time before purchasing a gun. In states where this policy is passed, it has already been proven to be an effective measure for keeping guns out of the hands of high-risk individuals. Universal background checks can be implemented in many forms, but it is imperative that we pass such a meaningful reform now.

These policies would make an enormous difference in preventing gun violence in this country, and the more support they have, the more likely they are to get passed into law. Having conversations about this issue with friends and family who disagree with you is no easy task, but this information should help you have an effective discussion. 

When you’re having these conversations, it is important to understand where your family is coming from and meet them at their level. If they don’t agree with you, raising your voice and getting heated will prevent them from engaging further. Make sure to listen, and acknowledge when they say things that you may agree or find common ground with. Many times, they may have knowledge about sides of this issue that you may not have heard before, and you can use that to strengthen your own arguments in the future. Additionally, you may learn something that can help modify a policy to make it work more efficiently, and appeal to more of the population. 

And remember, more often than not, we are all working towards the same goal of safety and most of these bills are measures that will help everyone. On that same note, you may not convince them of everything, but even changing someone’s mind on one issue is progress towards your goal. Try using terms such as ‘gun violence prevention’ or ‘gun safety’ as opposed to ‘gun control’ or ‘anti-gun.’ These terms make the conversation more open to discussion rather than shutting down anything they are about to say. And remember, at the end of the day, they are still your family, even if you disagree.