Annual Community Forum
2023 — Gun Safety: Generations Standing Together
If you were among the 250 Forum attendees on October 9, you experienced first-hand the enthusiasm of the crowd, especially the young people who attended, as guests and as speakers. The standing ovation given to 34-year-old keynoter Brandon Wolf, who survived the 2016 Pulse Nightclub mass shooting, made clear we’re all in this together.
Brandon’s address underscored this year’s Forum theme of Gun Safety: Generations Standing Together. Clearly, even 10 years since its founding, GGS knows much work still needs to be done to prevent gun violence, promote responsible gun ownership and advocate for gun safety.
Following are among the comments made during the conversation with participants of varying generations:
Of the 48,000 lives lost to gun violence last year, Brandon said that night, “We can do better than this.”
“There’s no reason on earth we should live in fear of guns,” Judy Sherry, GGS president, told attendees. She founded GGS after the December 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary.
Of minority groups suffering disproportionate levels of gun deaths, KU professor Jomella Watson-Thompson, PhD, said, “We have a right to live.”
Regarding the years he and his classmates have experienced active shooter drills, college student Sam Kim said, “My generation thinks that’s normal. It’s not.” Sam founded UMKC’s chapter of Students Demand Action.
And of mental health struggles that can contribute to gun violence, Shawnee Mission East High School student Emma Kuhlman, said, “We need more mental health services and facilities.” She’s co-president of East Against Gun Violence.
Listen to the forum below. Brandon’s Speech Starts at 31 minutes. Conversationalists begin at 76 minutes.
Annual Community Forum Highlights
If you were among the 250 Forum attendees on October 9, you experienced first-hand the enthusiasm of the crowd, especially the young people who attended, as guests and as speakers. The standing ovation given to 34-year-old keynoter Brandon Wolf, who survived the 2016...
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Past Annual Community Forum Overviews
2022 — ADVOCACY: The time is NOW!
With the public at a tipping point in its concern about gun violence, the Forum focused on ways to successfully advocate for change. Keynote speaker was Connecticut attorney Josh Koskoff who won a landmark $73 million settlement from Remington for nine Sandy Hook families who sued the manufacturer of the AK-15 assault rifle used in the mass shooting.
The link to this Forum is here
2021 — Gun Violence. Strategies to Curb This Public Health Epidemic
Our second virtual Forum featured keynote speaker Megan Ranney, MD, MPH, a nationally recognized epidemiologist and advocate for gun violence prevention. She was joined by local community leaders explaining their strategies to improve homelessness, unemployment, early childhood education and living environments. Over 185 people attended via Zoom.
The link to this Forum is here
2020 — Gun Violence. Going Beyond Thoughts and Prayers
Our first ever virtual Forum featured leaders in the Faith, Business and Government communities sharing their current actions and plans for the future. More than 225 people attended this Zoom webinar.
The link to this Forum is here
2019 — Gun Violence. Insights From Both Ends of the Gun
The Forum featured keynote speakers Azim Khamisa and Ples Felix and was attended by more than 280 people.
2018 — Gun Violence. Changing the Conversation
The Forum was attended by 250 participants and featured keynote speaker Candace Lightner, founder of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD)
2017 — Gun Violence. Keeping Our Children Safe
The Forum was attended by over 200 participants and featured keynote speaker is Nicole Hockley, mother of Dylan Hockley, who was killed at Sandy Hook.
2016 — Gun Violence. The Culture of Fear
For the first time, the Forum featured a nationally known keynote speaker: Leonard Pitts, Pulitzer Prize winning columnist syndicated in newspapers across the country including the Kansas City Star. The Forum was attended by more than 190 people.
2015 — Gun Violence. A public health issue
Rex Archer, M.D., Director of the Kansas City Department of Health was the keynote speaker. He was one of the earliest proponents of referring to gun violence as a public health issue. The Forum was attended by 165+ people.
2014 — Gun Violence. We need to understand it
Missouri State Representative, Stacey Newman, of St. Louis and Kansas City Mayor Sly James spoke. Both viewed this as a crucial step to address gun violence before many others understood its importance. This first Forum was attended by 140 people.
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