America is exceptional. America, the land of limitless opportunity, is the best place in the world to go to college, start a business, and experience a successful and fulfilling life. However, when it comes to the solving the issue of gun violence, specifically school shootings, American lawmakers are exceptionally terrible.

Maybe when you were in school, you prepared for earthquakes, fires, or Soviet bombs. My friends and I prepare for a classmate to shoot us. This is not the fault of my teachers, principal, or superintendent. This is the fault of the American government. Failure to act on a solvable issue can easily be construed as complicity, and for good reason.

When I was 11, in 2012, 20 innocent children were murdered at the hands of a monster with an Automatic Weapon. Like many other points our history, America faced a fork in the road. The choice was clear: justice or money from powerful interests. America took the wrong path. Since the Sandy Hook school shooting, there have been nearly 300 school shootings, senselessly ending the lives of thousands of innocent young Americans.

The most effective way I can describe what it feels like to be a student in America right now is with an analogy. If you’re reading this, you’re probably a Californian. If you’re a Californian, you’ve almost certainly heard about the Big Earthquake. All you can do is prepare, but you’ve been told there’s no way to prevent it. Every day, at school, my friends and I wait for the Big One. But our Big One can be prevented if our representatives decide to.

Thoughts and prayers will not prevent gun violence, but like any good Democrat, I know ways that we can work together to solve this problem.

First, join an organization. I’m a member of Everytown for Gun Safety, but I’d also strongly recommend joining Moms Demand Action, which is an amazing grassroots volunteer organization that does everything from letter writing to phone-banking and canvassing across America.

If you can’t physically volunteer, send in a donation or write a thank you note; encouragement and money keep these important organizations running. Public opinion could save the lives of my classmates, which is why I recommend you post about gun safety at least once every month on your social media platform of choice.

If you don’t use social media, write a letter for the “opinion” section of your local newspaper so that your neighbors can become informed too.

Finally, support candidates who support common sense gun safety measures. Specifically, ask the candidates where they stand on the Charleston Loophole, the Gun Show Loophole, background checks, and waiting periods.

Gun laws won’t end gun violence entirely. However, the rule of law is the best method any democracy has to keep their citizens safe, and closing loopholes will prevent unnecessary deaths. Although the problem seems overwhelming, there are small acts you can take that may make the difference between life and death for someone in this great nation. We must channel our fear and anger into activism because if we don’t demand progress, nobody else will