For the founder of philanthropic shoe company TOMS, thoughts and prayers are no longer enough when it comes to gun violence.
On The Tonight Show, Blake Mycoskie told host Jimmy Fallon that his company will donate $5 million towards efforts to end gun violence in America. This donation will go towards advocacy efforts and marks the biggest financial commitment on behalf of a private company to address America’s mass shooting epidemic.
TOMS is a social enterprise shoe company that gives one pair of shoes to someone who needs them for every pair bought, but also uses funds raised through purchases to provide sight, water, safe birth and bullying prevention services to people in need. To date, TOMS Giving has reached more than 70 million people across six continents.
Mr Mycoskie said that the announcement was the result of a conversation that he had with his wife, who refused to send their son to school the day that a school shooting had just taken place.
“She said she was tired of thoughts and prayers and no action—we had to do something,” he said.
TOMS founder Blake Mycoskie announces a new campaign to end gun violence by making a record-breaking donation
Posted by The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on Monday, November 19, 2018
Mr Mycoskie responded by writing an “intense” email to the TOMS board asking them to address the issue of gun violence in America.
The campaign’s goal is something that the founders consider to be achievable: universal background checks with the sale of all guns in the US. This proposed measure is not controversial, with Mr Mycoskie noting that more than 90 percent of Americans support it.
America’s gun law debate has long been considered intractable. The customary expression of “thoughts and prayers” for victims has become infamous and sparked discussion about the efficacy of prayer in lieu of action.
Rev. Dr Ken Carter is Resident Bishop of the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church. He delivered the 2018 Cato lecture at July’s Triennial Assembly meeting in Melbourne. He has previously spoken about gun violence as being part of a wider culture of death, and was part of an effort to send 5,000 letters to Floridian lawmakers on the subject.
“The repetitive cycle of mass shootings in public places had recently elicited responses that our “thoughts and prayers” were with the victims,” he wrote after the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida.
“And yet the repetitive nature of the trauma had begun to render this assurance, even if well-intentioned, as hollow.”
Jonathan Foye is Insights’ Editor