Because May is filled with holidays and graduations, we’ll skip our regular meeting and concentrate on events marking Gun Violence Awareness observances in June.

Sunday, June 2  National Gun Violence Awareness Day. Started in 2015 and observed annually on June 2, this day was created to call national attention to gun violence and express hope for a future free of its destructive consequences.

    Grandparents Against Gun Violence, members of the Heartland Coalition Against Gun Violence and others will rally at the J.C. Nichols Memorial Fountain on the Plaza from 1 to 3 pm. Please join us and wear your GAGV shirts or something orange. We created signs at our April meeting, bring your own or make one on-site; poster board and markers will be available

    Saturday & Sunday, June 8 & 9 – Gun Violence Awareness activities continue, organized by Everytown and MOMS Demand Action. Groups from Johnson County will march in the Old Shawnee Days parade on Saturday June 8 from 10 am to noon and a Kansas City group will meet Sunday, June 9 at 1:30 pm at the Kansas City Public Library’s Lucile H. Bluford Branch, 30th and Prospect.

      This year more than ever, it’s critical we make people aware of the public health damage caused by gun violence. In addition to accidental deaths, homicides, and the spiking numbers of suicides, the nation has experienced tragic acts of violence at schools and universities this past month.

      Two fatal school shootings happened just weeks after the 20th anniversary of the Columbine High School mass shooting, at the Highlands Ranch STEM charter school in Denver and the University of North Carolina in Charlotte. At each shooting, one student died protecting his classmates and preventing additional deaths.

      Since Columbine and through mid-May of this year, there have been more than 700 firearm incidents at schools and universities, with 13 shootings leaving 127 people dead and more than 200,000 students affected.

      This photo of the terrorized young student from Highlands Ranch STEM school poignantly illustrates the terrible toll of these horrific school shootings.

      At events like National Gun Violence Awareness Day, we wear orange to signify our commitment to end gun violence and enact common sense gun legislation. Why orange? It’s the color hunters wear in the woods to protect themselves and others from harm. Our wearing orange expresses our hope that someday we all will be protected from gun violence.

      Volunteer of the Quarter

      Julie Young was recognized as Pat Russell Volunteer of the Quarter at the April meeting. Julie, a retired school teacher, is an active member of the Program and Advocacy committees and has also volunteered to staff many Lock It For Love events. Her husband, Tom, is also a valued GAGV member and volunteer. 

      Photo:  Carla Oppenheimer presenting the Volunteer Award  Orchid  to a surprised Julie Young!

      Ready for Many Small Screens

      You’ll want to see and then share our newest video about the importance of responsible gun ownership and GAGV’s Lock It For Love program. The video was created over several weeks by Madison Mustoe, a multi-talented graduating senior from Shawnee Mission East High School.

      The three-minute video emphasizes the critical need for gun owners to safely store all firearms in their homes. Featured in the video are Drs. Denise Dowd and Shayla Sullivant, both of Children’s Mercy Hospital; Officer Andy Hamil, Community Interaction Officer from KCPD’s Central Patrol Division and Kansas State Representative Jerry Stogsdill of Prairie Village. Madison interviewed and filmed each participant, then edited their interviews. GAGV member Gail Roberson was executive producer of the video. Watch it here, post it on your Facebook page and ask others to share it with friends.

      Mark Your Calendars

      May 17 –  Firearm Violence in the United States: A Frank Discussion on an American Public Health Crisis
      7:30 am – 5:10 pm
      KU Med Center
      This program is free and public is invited. See the Event Program – you can attend all, or just what interests you.

      May 18 – 15th Annual Troost Avenue Festival 
      10:30 am – 8:00 pm
      GAGV members will be walking with Mothers United at 11:00 am.
      Meet at 3100 block of Troost.

      June 2 – National Gun Violence Awareness Day
      Rally at J.C. Nichols Memorial Fountain on the Plaza from 1 to 3 p.m.

      June 24  GAGV Monthly Meeting: Sensible Gun Legislation: Still Miles to Go
      We’ll hear from state legislators about firearms-related bills that were introduced in both Topeka and Jefferson City, particularly those concerning background checks and Extreme Risk Protection Orders. 

      October 14 – 6th Annual Community Forum
      Sponsored by the Heartland Coalition Against Gun Violence, a program of Grandparents Against Gun Violence.

      Gun Violence: Insights from Both Ends of the Gun

      • 8:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
      • Best Conference Center, KU Edwards Campus at 126th & Quivira Road in Overland Park

      News You Can Use 

      Important articles to read considering recent shootings at schools and synagogues:

      A plea for sensible gun legislation from Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Nicholas Kristof:

      We Have 2 Dead Young Heroes. It’s Time to Stand Up to Guns.

      And this clarion call from Pulitzer-Prize winning columnist Leonard Pitts, keynote speaker at our 2016 Community Forum:

      People are Dying for Nothing

      Why it’s a mistake to cite mental health as the reason for gun violence:

      What’s the Relationship Between Mental Illness and Gun Violence?

      Beating the NRA by giving both time and money:

      I Detest the N.R.A. What Should I do with my Gun?

      What GAGV’s Been Up To

      April 20 – Students Demand Action (SDA) commemorated the 20th Anniversary of the 1999 shooting at Columbine that left 13 dead and 24 injured. The event included musical tributes, speeches from students and other community leaders. U.S. Congresswoman Sharice Davids of Kansas spoke as did GAGV president Judy Sherry and Kara Werner from Moms Demand Action.

      One of the most moving presentations came from Jay Mehta of Overland Park, a graduating senior from Pembroke Hill School and an SDA member. Jay called on all the national gun violence prevention groups to join together to match the power of the NRA. His speech is well-worth reading.

      April 22 – GAGV’s April program: Winchester, Glock, Smith & Wesson – Names to Know

      John Ham, Public Information Officer for the Kansas City Field Division of the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, presented an outstanding overview of the types of firearms available today and how they’ve evolved since 1921. He explained bump stocks, the various types of handguns and assault-style rifles and discussed the relevance of caliber size to the degree of damage done by a bullet. This article explains that in more detail: A study examined Boston homicides and found bullet size is a matter of life or death.

      Following the weapons presentation, GAGV member John Ussery introduced his 11-year-old grandson Caden, who described the four-hour course he took presented by the Missouri Department of Conservation and required before it issues a hunting license. Caden said he enjoys hunting mainly because it means family time with his dad and paternal grandfather. Read the meeting minutes

      May 9  Panel including GAGV president Judy Sherry discusses ways to prevent gun violence: At Village Presbyterian panel on gun violence, experts stress importance of relationships in prevention.

      Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan, who won the Nobel Peace Prize at age 17.