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Survivors Speak!                  January 2022
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Making Each Day Matter

We have so much to celebrate as 2022 kicks off, but our hearts ache  because of  the continuing impact of gun violence upon all of us, including our precious children. The New York Times and the Washington Post each highlighted recently the mounting toll to teens, elementary schoolers, toddlers, and even babies. The stories and the Post’s editorial are horrifying accounts of what we already know, and mourn, and want desperately to change. And we’re going to keep on trying. We’ve got a long list of steps we’re taking  right now.

First things first: Look for a separate email later this week as we debut our new toolkit, created in collaboration with Giffords. It’s meant for survivors and allies, and addresses both the onslaught of emotions  faced by survivors, and the path forward for many survivors who want to take their pain and turn it into purpose. We are very proud of this collaborative effort and  we hope it will be useful in myriad ways.

At the beginning of February, along with the University of California San Diego’s  Center for Mindfulness, we’re launching a stress reduction meditation program that’s free to survivors who’d like to participate in a study and learn the very effective techniques mindfulness meditation offers. Please consider signing up this week!

Heather Sallan survived the 2017 shooting at a Las Vegas music festival, and she is about to embark on the mindfulness meditation program. Read more about what she’s experienced, and how she wants to move forward, in our profile below. 

On February 19, our Honor with Action tour will be up and rolling — literally! If you’re in the San Diego area, join us! We have a compelling slate of activities for the year, and are so excited to begin a journey that for the rest of 2022 will lead us to more than 20 cities around the country. If you’d like to dress the part, visit our Bonfire store, where we’ve got great clothing, totes and other items designed specifically for the Honor with Action tour.

That’s not all. We will be the inaugural guests on a new podcast, "Survivors Voices," that will first air in late February. Produced by a gun violence survivor, the show is meant to give survivors a unique space to talk about their feelings and observations. 

We’ve also been assembling stories for another book, and are glad to be adding these remembrances to the growing literature about the impact of gun violence. Stay tuned for more information as we get closer to publication.

As usual, we include more news stories of interest, and more quotes from survivors. 

Make each day matter,
Sandy and Lonnie

A Survivor Finds Healing Through Art
 

Sometimes Heather Sallan’s ideas come from clients, at other times from her fertile imagination.

But with every table, chair, light fixture and piece of home décor the leatherworker, metal fabricator and welder makes, she is remaking her own life.

Each piece she sews or bends or fuses together is an antidote to the flashbacks she has of running alongside hundreds of other panicked concertgoers when a gunman in a hotel room window began spraying bullets down on the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival in Las Vegas on Oct. 1, 2017.

More than four years later, Heather’s biggest project has been to heal from the trauma she carried back home to Reno, Nevada — a trauma that expressed itself in panic attacks, fits of crying and a feeling of being disconnected.

Read more here

Rolling Along: Keep Up with Us!

Want to feel part of the action even before we put our RV in "drive"?
We've got some beautiful hats, T-shirts and other apparel, as well as  tote bags, mugs and notecards, that are available to all via our online Bonfire store

We will give out pens and notepads as complimentary "swag" at our upcoming stops. On February 19, in partnership with San Diegans for Gun Violence Prevention, we launch out tour!

What Survivors Are Saying
“I graduated college. I’m used to my right arm being paralyzed. Now, I’m left-handed, so I’m like, “OK, this is who you are. You can’t change what’s written in stone.” Oronde McClain, who was shot in the head at age 10
 
"The only way to make me feel like I'm going to be okay is by bringing my kids back. And that will never happen." Anjum Coffland, whose twin daughters had their lives taken by her estranged husband
 
"I kept saying: Okay well God, look, there were so many people out there that day. Why me? What is my purpose and what am I supposed to do with this?" Gloria Howard, who was shot while volunteering for a gun-violence prevention initiative
 
“He was abusive in every way – physical, mental, emotional, stalking and tracing, financial abuse, isolation. You never knew what was going to set him off.” Rachel Knowles, whose mother’s life was taken by her stepfather

“He can’t be gone. He was working on so much. He had so much more life left to live.” Amanda Brooks, whose boyfriend’s life was taken during a random shooting
In the News
An analysis by Everytown for Gun Safety shows that states with strong gun safety laws have fewer deaths from gun violence.

Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh
introduced legislation to ban ghost guns; in Rhode Island, a man was arrested for operating a ghost gun factory.

The Paterson Healing Collective is a group of survivors of violence who try to discourage shooting victims from retaliating.

In San Jose, there's a new effort to require gun owners to have liability insurance.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolfe announced an additional $15 million in funding for grassroots gun-violence prevention groups.
 
A new Interstate Task Force on Illegal Guns held its first meeting on Jan. 26. The Task force combines the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives with agencies from Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont.
Help For Survivors
  • Survivors Empowered has a roster of dedicated trauma therapists who help survivors of gun violence heal from the aftermath. Visit our website for more information. 
  • We continue to look for volunteers across the country who want to help build coalitions and work with survivors of gun violence in their states. If interested in supporting our efforts, please contact us here.
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