Survivors Speak!                              January 2023

Finding Peace in a Chaotic Time

What a world.

Back-to-back massacres in California. A country repeatedly stained by gun violence in the first month of this new year. And a 6-year-old boy who brought a gun to school — telling people he had one, with the warning discounted by the school’s administration until he shot his elementary school teacher.

With the staggering numbers of new survivors, we know that the need for help is ballooning. Here are some resources to share:

Survivors Toolkit:

Sources for trauma therapists:

Parent Guidelines to Help Youth after Shootings:

Coping in the Aftermath of a Shooting:

We started the year in Mexico but are returning to the States soon. We’ll be joining Gabby Giffords on February 8 at a Town Hall in Denver, Colorado, to discuss the “Gun Violence Victims’ Access to Justice and Firearms Industry Accountability Act."

This bill would repeal the state’s version of the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which gives firearms manufacturers and sellers general immunity from lawsuits, including those by victims. Because of PLCCA, we were ordered to pay the legal fees of the online dealer that sold the high-velocity bullets that tore through movie theater seats in Aurora, Colorado, and killed our daughter.

Other speakers and panelists at the town hall will include public officials and community members, and the agenda will address what activists can do to overcome this uniquely industry-protecting, survivor-harming law. If you can attend, RSVP HERE

We’ll stay in the States for about six weeks, and then we’ll return to Mexico, where we are working on creating an inviting space for other survivors to come for retreats and mindfulness meditation. We continue collaborating with our partners at the University of California, San Diego. The mindfulness courses we offered with them last year have equipped so many with the tools they need to meet pain and overwhelming PTSD. If you missed it, learn here about what one of our participants had to say about her experience.

Our profile this month is of a family whose only daughter Ryanne was murdered in a mass shooting at her college on February 14, 2008. Mary Kay and Eric Mace have established a scholarship in her name. We include a wrap-up of the news and quotes from survivors. Our hearts go out to all the many people joining our “club” of the injured, shocked or bereaved. 

Our travels will continue throughout 2023, and we’re thrilled to offer a talk at the renowned Garrison Institute in New York this coming June. That’s about the time the new book we co-edited will be released. 

In these difficult times, remember that it is okay to put away social media, take a break from the news and make sure that you are practicing mindfulness, meditation or other methods you are using for self care. Remember what Jessi said: "Every second of every day is a gift."

In solidarity,

Sandy and Lonnie

A Family's Loss Inspires an Endowed Scholarship and Advocacy

When Valentine’s Day arrives, many people will think immediately about the high school students massacred at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on that day five years ago.

But Mary Kay Mace has been grieving the loss of  her daughter, Ryanne, ever since February 14, 2008, when the college sophomore and four other students were fatally shot, and 21 others wounded, at Northern Illinois University (NIU).

Reminding people of that tragedy is one of her missions. And for the last 15 years, Mace has also been using her pain to advocate for meaningful changes in gun laws and more support for the growing fraternity of gun violence survivors. 

​“What I want the survivor community to know is that they’re not alone,” she says.​

Read more here

Coming Soon!

Here is a preview of the cover of The Forgotten Survivors of Gun Violence: Wounded.

Edited by Sandy and Lonnie Phillips, Loren Kleinman and Shavaun Scott, this collection of 20 personal essays and photos illuminates the visible and invisible wounds that scar survivors long after the shooting stops.

"Their stories remind us that these traumatic experiences are not exclusive to combat soldiers but, more notably, suffered by ordinary people during modern life." 

The book will be available for pre-orders on May 1. 

How Media Coverage Influences Perceptions

Does media coverage of mass shootings overshadow the more-common neighborhood shootings responsible for most gun deaths and often fail to connect individual incidents to the broader themes, like gun-control policies and the country’s gun culture? Should there be more focus on survivors and the long-term impacts of gun violence?  

NPR host Michel Martin examines the manner media covers violence in “Changing the Way Media Reports on Gun Violence,” a 14-minute interview with Jessica Beard, a trauma surgeon at Temple University Hospital and research director at the Philadelphia Center for Gun Violence Reporting; and Nick Wilson, senior director for Gun Violence Prevention at the Center for American Progress. 

Beard said that neighborhood shootings are “much more common” but draw less coverage and that media coverage emphasizes the police response while ignoring the response by other stakeholders, including community members. 

“So my perspective is completely missing from that narrative, as somebody who responds to the medical trauma of gun violence,” she said. “Missing is the incredible work that the community is doing to combat gun violence.” 

Listen to the full interview at

The Facts About Permitless Carry
States that pass permitless carry laws, which allow people to carry loaded firearms in public without a license, background check or training, see a 22 percent increase in gun homicides three years after enactment, according to GVPedia.

The increase is more than double the 10 percent rise in the country overall, according to GVPedia, whose founder, Devin Hughes, is also a board member of Survivors Empowered. One of the main pieces of disinformation pushed by advocates for the laws is that they reduce violent crime. 

For more facts about permitless carry, including other common disinformation about the laws, visit
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 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.
What Survivors Are Saying

"It's kind of a three-stage process. It's the grieving process, it's the rebuilding process, and then it's the fighting process.” Michael Anderson, meeting with Colorado Gov. Jared Polis about gun legislation


“I realized sitting in a room, depressed all day, was not going to change my situation. It wasn’t going to make me magically walk. I might as well just live life, see what I can do, find a new normal.” Porche Powell, who is a member of a support group comprised of disabled survivors

"As a society, we have to get to a place where someone can't just wake up and say I'm going to go out and shoot 50 strangers." Bruce Sundheim, at a rally in support of Illinois’ assault weapons ban

“As much as we would like to think this couldn’t happen to us, the inaction of our legislature has sent a clear message to students and teachers: Gun violence will be an accepted part of the school experience; gun violence.” Lauren Jasinski, demanding legislative action in Michigan

"My life's not in turmoil like it was at that point in time. It's better now. Just doing mom stuff, going forward with life." Aaleigha Tynan, who survived a shooting in Eugene, Oregon, in 2022

In The News

Illinois is facing multiple court challenges to its just-passed ban on assault weapons and large-capacity ammunition magazines.  

The U.S. Supreme Court allowed New York state to
continue fully enforcing, pending an appeal, a gun law that imposes new requirements on people seeking concealed-carry licenses and bans weapons in a number of public places. 

Evidence shows that safe-storage laws reduce homicides and injuries among youth and that shall-issue concealed-carry laws and stand-your-ground laws increase firearm violence, according to a
new RAND Corporation report

The New York Times chronicles the growing number of support groups formed to help survivors disabled by gun violence. 

The National Rifle Association’s donor base
plummeted in 2022, according to an analysis by The Trace of federal campaign data. 

launched in Montana a new chapter of its Gun Owners For Safety, a coalition of collectors, hunters and sports shooters who support gun violence-prevention laws.  


In the face of unrelenting violence, we remember our daughter's words:

“I say all the time that every moment we have to live our life is a blessing. So often I have found myself taking it for granted. Every hug from a family member. Every laugh we share with friends. Even the times of solitude are all blessings. Every second of every day is a gift." 

Support Us!

Visit to make a one-time or recurring donation. 

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

We also have a series of buttons that can be ordered at


We wish you all peace and love in 2023!

Follow Us on Social Media
Copyright © 2023 Survivors Empowered Inc., All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

This email was sent to <<Email Address>>
why did I get this?    unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences
Survivors Empowered Inc. · 1315 S Clayton St., Suite 300 · Denver, Colorado 80210-2456 · USA

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp