That time People magazine got serious about gun violence and encouraged readers to do something

You might think of People magazine as a celebrity gossip rag, but in a recent letter from the editor, Editorial Director Jess Cagle wrote about something decidedly more serious.

As it often does in the wake of national tragedies, People covered the awful story about the Umpqua Community College massacre.

But the difference was the call to action contained in the editor's letter, which was also published online.


Cagle writes about the heartbreak of once again having to reach out to victims' family members after a mass shooting so that the magazine could pay tribute to them. Cagle says that there are "no easy answers" to the questions, "How could it happen again? What are we doing about gun violence in America?"

"But this much we know," he writes. "As a country we clearly aren't doing enough, and our elected officials' conversations about solutions usually end in political spin."

Cagle acknowledges: "I think mass shootings when I'm on a train, and when the lights go down in a movie theater, and when I see children in a classroom."

And then he gets to the point:

"We need to know that our representatives in Washington, D.C., are looking for solutions and not giving up, and they need to know if we agree or disagree with their strategies. Below, we've provided phone numbers, email addresses (provided by the Sunlight Foundation's OpenCongress project) and Twitter handles (when available) for all 535 voting members of the House and Senate. Let's make sure they know that from now on, "routine" responses just won't cut it."

He calls for readers to contact their senators and representatives and "make their voices heard." Providing the contact info of every member of Congress makes it much easier for readers to do.


The thing about gun violence is that we make it a political issue — and nothing ever changes.

In his video, Cagle says, "one thing is very, very clear: as a country, we are not doing enough about gun violence." He references the Center for Disease Control's statement that firearm injuries and deaths are a public health concern. Yet despite it being a public health concern, it's one we continue to ignore in the face of mass shootings and everyday gun violence so common it doesn't even make national news.

Despite the CDC's concern about gun violence, Congress has worked hard to ensure the government agency doesn't actually conduct any research into the best way to deal with it. Back in 1996, "Congress imposed major restrictions on what kind of gun violence research the CDC can do. And the agency has interpreted the restrictions to stop almost all gun-related research," explains Vox.

The ban —"None of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may be used to advocate or promote gun control." — was just recently extended by Congress.

If we want to see change, we need more information about what's going to actually help reduce gun violence.

Because doing nothing sure isn't working.

It makes sense that a public agency whose stated mission is "to protect America from health, safety and security threats, both foreign and in the U.S." would do that research. And yet it cannot, and Congress is trying to keep it that way.

I never thought I'd say this, but we should take People magazine's advice. We need to reach out to our congressional representatives.

It's pretty cool that a magazine like People is encouraging Americans to take action. According to Statista, People reached about 79 million readers in the United States this year. That's a big audience, and it includes readers who might just do something, which would be great. How many more mass shootings are we willing to tolerate?

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I'm staring at my screen watching the President of the United States speak before a stadium full of people in North Carolina. He launches into a lie-laced attack on Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, and the crowd boos. Soon they start chanting, "Send her back! Send her back! Send her back!"

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WATCH: Trump rally crowd chants 'send her back' after he criticizes Rep. Ilhan Omar www.youtube.com

My mind flashes to another President of the United States speaking to a stadium full of people in North Carolina in 2016. A heckler in the crowd—an old man in uniform holding up a TRUMP sign—starts shouting, disrupting the speech. The crowd boos. Soon they start chanting, "Hillary! Hillary! Hillary!"

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Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

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