The New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday dropped the usual game coverage that appears on their social media accounts, opting instead to use Twitter to highlight the brutal toll of gun violence in the United States.
“The devastating events that took place in Uvalde, Buffalo and countless other communities across our nation are tragedies that are intolerable,” the teams, which play each other Thursday, said.
In lengthy Twitter threads, the teams pointed to alarming statistics, such as the average number of veterans who die each year by firearm suicide — 4,500 — or the frequency by which a young Black man dies in a gun homicide: every three hours.
Guns were the leading cause of death for children and teens in 2020, the teams pointed out.
Each statistic linked to sources like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Veterans Affairs.
The Rays said it had pledged $50,000 to Everytown for Gun Safety, a gun control advocacy group, and partnered with the group Thursday to "amplify facts about gun violence in America."
"This cannot become normal," the team said. "We cannot become numb. We cannot look the other way. We all know, if nothing changes, nothing changes."
The campaign came one day after the Miami Heat urged fans to support "commonsense gun laws" by contacting their lawmakers and voting. The announcement was made during the NBA's Eastern Conference finals.
In Uvalde, Texas, an 18-year-old gunman massacred 19 children and two teachers at an elementary school on Tuesday.
In Buffalo, New York, another 18-year-old gunman who authorities said was motivated by a racist ideology opened fire at a grocery store, killing 10 people and wounding three on May 14.
On May 15, a Las Vegas man shot six people at a Taiwanese church in California in an incident Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes has described as a "politically motivated hate incident." The gunman was allegedly upset about tensions between China and Taiwan, Barnes said.
If you’re a veteran in crisis or concerned about one, call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 and press 1. Find more ways to get help through the VA or nonprofit organizations like the Wounded Warrior Project, Blue Star Families and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA).