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Day of Action: Call on Congress to Reinstate the Assault Weapons Ban

May 13, 2023

Students Demand Action volunteers holding up Students Demand Action signs and a sign of an assault rifle with a dashed line through it


Every day, 120 Americans are shot and killed, hundreds more are shot and wounded, and countless others are left traumatized after witnessing acts of gun violence. Guns are the number one killer of our generation, and we are fed up with wondering if we will come home safely from a trip to the store, a walk in the park or a day at school. We’re tired of thoughts and prayers without action. We’re demanding lawmakers stand up to the gun industry and pass laws that save lives.

Campaign Overview

2023 has already been a deadly year. From Monterey Park to Nashville to Louisville, there have been more than 170 mass shootings so far, and unfortunately, mass shootings only represent about 1 percent of gun deaths in America. Missing from the headlines are the 120 lives taken and hundreds more impacted by gun violence every day from devastating homicides, suicides, domestic violence incidents, police violence and unintentional shootings. May 14 marks one year since a white supremacist took the lives of 10 people and wounded three people in a grocery store in Buffalo, NY. And, on May 24, we’ll mark one year since 19 children and two teachers were killed in an elementary school in Uvalde, TX. Lives were taken and forever changed. And both of these shooters, armed with hate and a firearm, used an AR-15 to commit these heinous tragedies.

We’re tired of heartbreak, and we’re tired of living in fear so we’re stepping up and demanding solutions we know will help address this crisis. Volunteers in congressional districts across the country will come together on Saturday, May 13, 2023 to demand one immediate solution, that the US House of Representatives bring an Assault Weapons Ban to the floor of Congress. We will rally, hand out flyers, phonebank and march to demand a ban on assault weapons.

Planning Your Event

  1. All events should take place on Saturday, May 13, 2023. The time is up to you.
  2. Decide what type of event. Here are some ideas and links to instructions:
  3. Pick a location: Locations can vary and you should pick one that is meaningful to your community. Please DO NOT gather outside of Congressional offices.

Creating Your Event

Create your event by submitting details at this link. When submitting your request please follow the guidance below:

  1. Event Naming Protocol: SDA-State Abbreviation-City/Town/School-Day of Action (e.g. SDA-TX-Baylor University-Day of Action). All event names must start with SDA.
  2. Event Description: You must include the words Students Demand Action when drafting your description.

By creating your event, it will be included in our national recruitment messages, and will be published on our Find an Event website and Demand Action App. This is the best way to have the biggest impact! We will also be able to follow up with you and the people who attend your event to keep you all involved in the gun violence prevention movement.

After you create your event, we will send you instructions about how to see who has signed up and how to mark who attended your event, as well as additional resources.

Event Promotion: Get the Word Out!

  1. Signs and Promotional Flyers: After you create your event, we’ll send you a packet with template flyers, or you can make homemade signs.
  2. Recruit: You should use our normal recruitment tools like our peer-to-peer texting and email tools, and inviting people in your own network. You can submit a request for recruitment and outreach here.
  3. Involve community partners in planning and promotion: Involve partners in planning and ask everyone to share the event with networks and on social media.
  4. Wear red! Whether it is an official Students Demand Action or Everytown Survivor Network shirt or just something else red, get everyone wearing our signature color and demanding action.

Messaging Guidance

Talking Points

We have created talking points you can use to craft remarks and talk about why we need to ban assault weapons now. These are also useful if you get a media inquiry.

Homemade Signs

A red shirt selfie is always great, but a homemade sign would be amazing for a recruiting post and could also be held during the event. After you create your event, we’ll send samples.

Social Media Guidance

Use your own social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) to raise awareness about our demand to reinstate the bipartisan assault weapons ban and illustrate the power of the movement by reporting out what is going on at events. Be sure to include the call to action, text FED UP to 644-33.

Best Practices

  • Frame your posts using the messaging guidance found in this toolkit.
  • Your social media is most powerful when it reflects your own unique voice.
  • Include @StudentsDemand and #FedUp, and #DayofAction.
  • Include a photo or video of you in action. Red shirt selfies and group photos at events are great!

Sample Social Media Post

I’m #FedUp with being part of the “mass shooting generation.” Lawmakers, take action to save lives and reinstate the bipartisan Assault Weapons Ban!

I’m calling on Congress to reinstate the bipartisan assault weapons ban now, join me! Text FED UP to 644-33 to call your US House rep and demand they act!

Rallies, Marches, Vigils and Other Gatherings

Visible events like rallies, marches and vigils are a great option for the Day of Action. They can be as big as 300 people or as small as a dozen. As long as your program is well thought out and prepared, your event will be a success! Rallies and marches often have a theme of demanding action while vigils are more reserved and solemn. Decide what you think is more important for your community and make a plan.

  1. Picking your location: Pick a location that can fit a crowd. Think about public transportation and parking, as well as accessibility for those with mobility issues. Think of places like town squares, city hall, large pavilions, local landmarks etc. Reminder: Please do not plan your event for outside of Congressional offices.
  2. Coordinate Logistics: Think through logistics and remember to have a plan for sound, sign in, and a group photo. 
  3. Planning the Speaker Program: Ensure that those impacted by gun violence have their voices heard. Black, Native American, and Latino/Latina/Latinx communities are disproportionately impacted by gun homicide in most states. Speakers should reflect a diversity of perspectives and experiences, including survivors of gun violence, people from communities disproportionately impacted in your area, students, faith leaders and gun owners. Don’t invite too many speakers so that the event is still effective and efficient.
    • After welcoming attendees, start the program with a moment of silence for all victims and survivors of gun violence.
    • Keep the program to an hour or less. Plan for a maximum of 5 to 8 speakers if each speaks for 2 to 4 minutes. 
    • Having volunteers stand behind the speakers with posters can create a colorful backdrop for photos and press. 
  4. Holding a vigil is a powerful way to educate your community and honor victims and survivors of gun violence. Preorder a supply of candles to hand out to attendees during your rally or have people use the flashlight on their phone.
  5. Finalize security plans: It is always a good idea to let local law enforcement know about your event. Depending on the size of your event they may have recommendations. If you hear of specific security concerns, email for support. As always, follow the instructions of law enforcement. If you are told to leave or move, please respectfully do so.

Instructions for Flyering, Tabling and Sign-Waving Events

Gun violence impacts every community in this country, and so should our events. A tabling event, flyering event or sign waving can be a great way to raise awareness, drive meaningful action, and show the strength, spread, and courage of our movement from literally everywhere.

  1. What are these Events? Tabling (setting up a folding table at a public space, and inviting people for a conversation), Flyering (handing out flyers with information on the issue and details on how to take action) and Sign-Waving (Standing on the sidewalk in high-traffic street corners, waving signs calling on Congress to take action) are all tactics a small group of activists can engage in. 
  2. Picking your location: Think about high traffic areas: A campus student center, a coffee shop near school, lunch period tabling opportunities, a farmers market, a local concert, etc.. Since this is a smaller action, typically 2 – 10 individuals will participate with you, you should feel safe and comfortable to put yourself in these spaces. A permit should not be required to pass out flyers or to wave signs. For some tabling opportunities, you may need a permit from the organizers of the event. Please follow the instructions listed under “planning your event” above. 
  3. What to do once you’re there: Your goal is to get people to take action. If you are there for two hours, it is better to talk to ten people and get them to take action with us, then to have 200 people see you wave a sign, and not take any action.
    • If you are flyering, We’ll provide you with talking points you can use to start conversations with people to talk to them about how they can take action right there and then by scanning the QR code on their phone. 
    • In a tabling event, Stand in front of the table, greet and interact with people. Once people stop, you can share more about what you’re doing, ask them to take action, and invite them to join our movement.  
    • If you are Sign-Waving, Make sure your signs are big and clear. Also have big and clear print outs of the QR codes, so folks can quickly use their phones to scan and join us in action. 
    • Don’t feed the trolls! While not likely, someone might argue with you. Remember the policies you are standing up for are supported by the majority of Americans, and we are looking to engage people who agree with us, not convince people who aren’t. If at any point you do not feel safe, please leave and contact law enforcement. 

Join Us to Phonebank

Not able to host an event near you?

You can still make an impact by gathering your team to join us for our Virtual Afternoon of Action on Saturday, May 13 from 3-6pm ET (12-3pm PT). During this time, we’ll call voters in key House districts about the need to reinstate a federal assault weapon ban and urge them to call their representative to speak out! No previous experience is needed—we’ll go over our action and run through a short phonebanking training. All you need is a phone, computer or tablet that connects to the internet.

Want to host your own phonebanking event on Saturday, May 13?

Create your event and tell us you’re phonebanking in the event description—we’ll be in touch with guidance on how your team can call into our national virtual phonebank on the 13th. Please note that the phonebank is only open between 12pm-9pm ET.

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