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Survivors Speak!                  March 2022
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Gratitude, Grief and Grit

We feel two opposing sentiments right now. We are grateful for the wonderful start to our Honor with Action tour and its many supporters; at the same time, we feel dislocation and grief at the eruptions of violence spanning the globe. We think the best response is grit, whether geopolitical, closer to home, or individual.

 

We say frequently that it has been our mission to turn pain into purpose. In this issue, we profile two people whom we greatly appreciate and admire: Kristin and Michael Song. After their teenage son was killed by an unsecured handgun at their neighbor’s home, the Songs sprang into action and spearheaded passage of  Ethan’s Law, a measure that imposes consequences upon irresponsible gun owners who fail to appropriately lock up firearms, and whose failures result in harm or death to others. Read about the Songs’ effective efforts in their home state of Connecticut, around the country and nationally.

Despite progress on the secure-storage front, there are so many challenges and tragedies to confront. As usual, we share clips from news sources covering the carnage, and gun policy developments. We also include quotes from survivors. And don’t miss our podcast, Voices of Survivors, hosted by Amber Starr Currie!

Our Honor with Action tour stops next in Atlanta, where we are eager to meet with others who are determined to stop the bloodshed.  Also on our calendar, we are poised to start our next round of Mindfulness Meditation for survivors next week! We can’t wait.

We were outraged by a news item that is very personal to us. Governor Bill Lee of Tennessee appointed to the state’s school board Jordan Mollenhour, the co-owner of Lucky Gunner, an ammunition  manufacturer whose bullets ripped through our daughter Jessi nearly 10 years ago. We sued Lucky Gunner not for money, but to change sales practices that included peddling bullets to minors, but we were unsuccessful; the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) resulted in a very expensive and painful loss for us. 

Years later, Lucky Gunner sold bullets to a teenager in New Mexico who shot up a school, taking the lives of 10. What’s our reaction to Mollenhour’s appointment? To put it mildly, we can do better when we seek public servants. 

We care deeply about gun violence in all its forms, but as parents whose child was murdered, mass shootings in schools are particularly odious. We want to see real consciousness about how to protect our children manifested by every single person who has any influence at all about what happens in our young people’s environments. Need we say more?

We hope to be meeting many of you along the road this year,

Sandy and Lonnie 

Keeping Kids Safe In Ethan's Name

 

“Kids around, lock guns down.”

That is the slogan that enfolds Kristin and Mike Song’s mission — a crusade that is also clothed in tragedy.

The first devastating blow for the Connecticut couple came on Jan. 31, 2018, when their 15-year-old son, Ethan, died of an accidental gunshot from an unsecured weapon in a neighbor’s home.

The second came when the Songs were told by the local prosecutor that the friend’s father could not be criminally charged because the state’s safe-storage law applied only in cases where it could be proved that a weapon was loaded.

 “All of a sudden people were wringing their hands and saying, ‘We can’t charge him,’” said Mike Song. “I said, ‘Not even a $10 parking ticket? Nothing?’”

The Song’s disbelief launched a movement.

Read more here

Rolling Along: Keep Up with Us!

Want to feel part of the action as we travel the country?
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 launched our tour!

What Survivors Are Saying
“Every time I see one of these kids, I try to use my own perspective and story as a gun violence survivor if they survive, to try to talk to them about what they have been through and what they experienced.” Joseph Sakran, a gun violence survivor who treats shooting victims as head of emergency surgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore

"I asked myself what do I want to do despite what happened to me? From that, I started thinking of building my own nonprofit to fit the needs of what I already saw were missing.” Megan Bull, who started a nonprofit to help trauma survivors after being shot at a garlic festival in Gilroy, California 


“I lie awake at night agonizing over what Sarah experienced in that house. I worry about the horror and pain she must have experienced when she heard the gunfire and felt the first bullet pierce her throat.” Susan Browder, a member of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America whose daughter's life was taken by an abusive partner

“I laid in the canal for eight hours, trying to get help, trying to stand up, trying to crawl, trying to move.” Deserae Turner, who was 14 when she was shot in the head in 2017
In the News
Vermont Gov. Phil Scott signed legislation that bans guns from hospitals and expands from three to seven days the amount of time gun buyers must wait for a background check. Under a federal law known as the "Charleston loophole," gun purchases can proceed if the FBI fails to complete a background check within three days. 

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced that the state spent $8.2 million to hire additional outreach workers for its SNUG program, which was created to prevent shootings by mediating conflicts and mentoring youth. The workers will deploy to 10 municipalities, where they will also provide trauma counseling and other kinds of support. 

Illinois state Rep. Kam Buckner introduced legislation that would make it a crime for anyone to "
knowingly possess, transport, or receive an unfinished frame or receiver" used to create untraceable "ghost guns." The proposal also prohibits the use of a 3D printer to make guns or gun parts. 

Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee signed a package of gun bills that would prohibit the sale of untraceable "ghost guns," restrict weapons at school board and city council meetings, and other locations, and ban ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. 

John Asciutto, a varsity basketball player who survived a November 2021 shooting at Oxford High School in Michigan, is one of 10 finalists for a Jersey Mike's Naismith Courage Award.  
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 at Giffords.org
  • 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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