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Survivors Speak!                  August 2022
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Moving Forward (if a bit slowed)

The dog days of August are nearly over, and as it happens, we (and our two canines) have escaped much of the heat and enjoyed the warmth of dear friendships.

We were beyond moved when Stephen Dexter, author and star of the terrific short film American Morning, chose to devote the proceeds of a recent screening in Beacon, New York, to our cause. The movie is a powerhouse, and it was a wonderful event. Coming soon, if you are in Colorado, you’ll be able to see it on the big screen, and we would love to present it again and again. 

The September 26th showing (and fundraiser, with a selection of available art) will be in Lone Tree, Colorado, where from 6-8 PM we will be seeing old and new friends, having cocktails and light refreshments, and holding a Q&A about gun violence. (For more information, contact info@survivorsempowered.org.)

Also, at the end of September, we’re thrilled that Jackson Browne is devoting a portion of his Red Rock appearance proceeds to Survivors Empowered. Thank you, Jackson! We love your music, and you. 


Our Honor with Action tour is rolling along — metaphorically. Our rig hit more than a speed bump recently, and we are waiting to see when and if it can be fixed or whether we need to say goodbye to it, with what we hope will be adequate insurance to cover a replacement. One way or another, we’ll be busy these next few months.

One of the great boons of our tour has been reconnecting in person with old friends and fellow survivors. Tireless advocate Carolyn Dixon, whom we saw in New York recently, is profiled in this issue. 

Closing out August, we were honored to be speakers at the Institute on Violence, Abuse and Trauma SummitThe IVAT event brought together a great cross-section of researchers, advocates, front-line workers and survivors. Check out some pictures below.

We’ve just learned that a publisher has signed on to release our second book! It is, naturally, a story of survivors. We know that we will have galleys to review this fall, and we couldn’t be happier. Stay tuned. 
 

We wrote to you last month about the positive, but only partial, political action we’ve seen happening recently. The new federal Bipartisan Safer Communities Act is a step forward, but left out crucial items, such as the repeal of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, universal background checks, and a designated Office of Gun Violence Prevention. But we are  heartened by President Biden's support for an assault weapons ban, and the full House vote in favor of a ban. 

We are grateful to the indomitable allies who’ve made the current progress happen, and who are continuing to push forward. We thank Rep. Adam Schiff for sponsoring the Equal Justice for Victims of Gun Violence Act. We appreciate Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), who subpoenaed Smith & Wesson for follow-up information after they failed to come to House Oversight and Reform Committee hearings held in July. We are also cheered by two judicial rulings that upheld the Biden Administration's new ghost gun regulations that went into effect on Aug. 24. 

As usual, we include our quotes from survivors and news coverage in this issue.

Looking toward the horizon, we know we will have events each month until the end of this Honor with Action year. Thank you for coming along with us, in person, via zoom, or by any other means. We appreciate you all.

In solidarity,

Sandy and Lonnie

'To Live': A Survivor Chooses Her Destiny

Where do I go from here? 

That was a question Carolyn Dixon said she struggled to answer after Darrell Lynch, the middle child she considered her best friend, had his life taken by a gunman on May 5, 2014, in a shooting over a parking spot. Dixon, who was with her son, then 24 years old, held him as he died. 

“The community loved him — just loved him,” she said. “He always saw, he never judged.” 

Her own wounds were still fresh one morning when she left an overnight shift at work. By the middle of the day she had decided she would commit suicide unless she received a sign from her son. That sign came, said Dixon, when she became ill and visited a clinic. There, she saw the doctor who delivered Darrell. 

“She remembered me and she asked about him and said, ‘Come into my office,’” said Dixon. “And his picture was right there on a wall. So that was my sign: Mom, I’m OK. You have to live.”

Since then, she has been helping other survivors find the same answer.

Read more here

Film Screening Raises Nearly $1K For Survivors Empowered; More to Come

A sold-out screening of the short film American Morning at the Story Screen Beacon Theater in Beacon, New York, raised nearly $1,000 for Survivors Empowered on Aug. 14.

Stephen Dexter wrote and starred in the 25-minute film, which chronicles the anger and grief that consumes a music teacher who has survived a school shooting. Dexter, who attended the screening with director Robbie Bryan, said he read Tom Diaz’s book about Sandy and Lonnie, Tragedy in Aurora, while conducting research for his script. 

“It came from a place of profound rage and sadness because of what kept happening,” said Dexter when asked why he made the film. To view American Morning, visit youtube.com/watch?v=MIj62sNTfis. If you'd like to see it on the big screen, we'll be showing it in Lone Tree, Colorado on September 25! 

Speaking and Connecting at the Institute on Violence, Abuse and Trauma
We were honored to speak at the international Institute of Violence, Abuse and Trauma Summit held in San Diego, from Aug 28.-Aug. 31. The top photo includes our old friends John McKenna, the two of us, Alicia Nichols, Jessica Sea, and Briane Malte, and the bottom photo shows us with new and generous friends. The focus of this 27th summit: Amplifying Voices for Recovery, Resilience, Reconciliation and Reformation. 
What Survivors Are Saying

"PTSD, for me, it's lifelong.” Flo Rice, in a story about the ongoing need for mental health services four years after a high school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas

"When I heard the first shots, I fell flat on the floor and played dead.” Carrie Barnhill, 88, who was injured in a shooting that killed her sister in Milwaukee

"I'm just happy and blessed that I'm here to be able to continue to do things like this.” Raheem Bell, who survived a carjacking and shooting and is now a activist in Philadelphia

“He definitely protected us.” Tiara Johnson, talking about Aaron Salter Jr., a security guard credited with trying to stop the man who took the lives of 10 people at Tops supermarket in Buffalo, New York

“We’ve been in situations where we’re preventing and de-escalating and doing some type of mediation with different groups who are engaging in violence.” Pamela Johnson, who survived a shooting and founded the Jersey City Anti-Violence Coalition

"I was unarmed, my children were playing outside, and I was shot by my neighbor. He tried to kill me in front of my kids.” Gertrude Byrd, who was shot in Milwaukee by a neighbor

 

In The News

Parents rallied outside Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s mansion in Austin, urging him to raise from 18 to 21 the legal age to purchase AR-15-style weapons like the one used to kill 19 students and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde. 

The kits used to make “ghost guns” are
now being regulated as firearms by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives under a new rule that took effect on Aug. 24. 

The New York Times writes about how students who survived the Parkland, Florida, shooting in 2018 turned their anger over inaction on gun violence into activism. 

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced that police departments had confiscated 6,007 illegal guns between Jan. 1 and the end of July, 20 percent more than the same time period in 2021. 

Lauren Magee, an assistant professor at Indiana University’s Paul H. O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs, has been studying the impact of nonfatal shootings on survivors and their families.

The Trace writes about
$300 million in federal funding for community groups involved in violence intervention. 

 

Calling All Artists!

We are grateful for the beautiful pieces of artwork we've already received! We'll have some works available in Lone Tree, Colorado at our September 26th benefit; there's still time if you'd like to consider donating a piece for our online auction, date to be determined. Email 
sandy@survivorsempowered.org for more information. Thank you!
Support the Honor With Action Tour

Want to feel part of the action as we travel the country? Want to wear your feelings on your chest?

We've got beautiful hats, T-shirts and other apparel, as well as tote bags, mugs and notecards, available to all via our online Bonfire store. Check out our "Only in America" shirt, with images of three assault weapons.

We will give out pens and notepads as complimentary "swag" at upcoming stops.

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 created, in collaboration with Giffords, a toolkit for survivors, available at Giffords.org.and in downloadable PDF form at our website
  • 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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