A Different Kind of Spring

We at GAGV are grateful for the opportunity to use this month’s newsletter to connect with our community of volunteers and supporters. As we observe the stay at home orders from both sides of the state line, many of us may feel isolated from family and friends. We’ve all needed to adjust to numerous changes in our daily lives. For many of us that’s meant curtailing GAGV activities, from gathering at our monthly meetings to volunteering at Lock It For Love events. Spring this year is very different.

Yet despite the virus and its constraints, GAGV’s commitment to prevent gun violence remains the same. We’ve alerted the media to the likelihood of more gun violence as people are required to spend more time confined to their homes. As the sales of firearms and ammunition accelerate nationwide, we’re concerned about the potential for increases in homicide, suicide, domestic violence, hate crimes and people (especially children) being in a home with improperly secured firearms. We have posted information on our website to ensure people have the resources they need to feel safe in the community and in their homes, and have used Facebook postings to direct readers to the site. We’re hopeful the media will soon include this information in their daily coronavirus updates and stories; for now, we hope you and your family are staying safe at home.

Hopefully we can resume our regular monthly meetings sometime this summer. When we do, the first program will be one increasingly relevant as a result of the coronavirus pandemic: the personal toll on first responders. The program outlined below will focus primarily on our police partners. They and firefighters, health care professionals and others on the front lines battling the virus deserve an outpouring of appreciation along with grocery store staffs, truck drivers, postal workers and local restauranteurs who are helping meet our daily needs. Tell them Thank You every chance you get!

Behind the Badge: Struggles Our Police Partners Face

Program Date TBD

Every day, even before the additional pressures brought by the pandemic, police officers face uncertain danger. They answer calls of potential homicides, domestic violence, drug overdoses, car accidents, abused children and more. They’ve got to think fast, comfort victims, confront the perpetrators, protect themselves and their partners, then document every incident. They face stress at almost every turn.

That stress can lead to physical and mental health problems, marriage and family issues, post-traumatic stress syndrome and at the very worst, suicide. In 2018, at least 167 police officers nationwide died by suicide, more than were killed in the line of duty, according to the nonprofit law enforcement support group called Blue H.E.L.P.

At GAGV, we feel especially close to police officers who serve as partners in the Lock It For Love program that’s distributed 2,800 free gun locks. Our urban and suburban police partners have joined us at 119 community events on both sides of the state line, demonstrating the correct way to use the locks and providing invaluable support as we promote safe storage of weapons. We care about them just as they care for our community.

We’ll hear the Police Chiefs of both Kansas City and Prairie Village tell their stories and explain how their departments are helping officers to better handle their often-dangerous work.

Advocacy Corner

Even though Congress and state legislatures are not physically in session except for critical financial and public health proposals, please continue to share your thoughts with elected officials at every level of government. Praise them when they deserve it and educate them when they need it. This is a perfect opportunity to email and call their offices. We and they have more time available than usual. We may even get responses beyond the standard form letters! Find your legislators here.

Here’s another idea closer to home: Small businesses in our communities are being hit hard economically by the virus. Local stores and restaurants need strong community support to survive this pandemic. Consider ordering carry-out and/or delivery from local restaurants and buying gift cards online to be used once life returns to normal. Supporting these businesses now is an immediate boost that can help ensure they’ll be open in the future.

Of particular note is Stuff, an eclectic place to shop in Brookside that has supported GAGV. Owner sisters Sloane and Casey Simmons have been small business leaders in Kansas City for 24 years. Among the Simmons’ efforts to create a true sense of community, their store supports nonprofits like GAGV through specially-designated holiday shopping nights. Last November, GAGV received more than $400 from its Stuff shopping night. In March, Stuff saw a 65% drop in sales and the owners were forced to lay off their entire staff, according to the Kansas City Star. While we hope to repeat the shopping sharing event this year, let’s support Stuff and other local businesses now. You can order gift cards and merchandise from Stuff online

Speaking of shopping: if you’re buying more necessities on Amazon because of sheltering in place, please remember to use AmazonSmile,which benefits nonprofits. If you haven’t already, you can designate GAGV as your charity of choice to receive .5% of all your Amazon purchases. Simply go to smile.amazon.com and sign in with your existing amazon.com credentials. Search for Grandparents Against Gun Violence and select it to receive your donations. Remember: your Amazon shopping must start from smile.amazon.com in order to benefit GAGV.

News & Thoughts You Can Use

We’re focusing on the positive this month!

Here is a special message from Azim Khamisa, the inspiring keynote speaker at our 2019 Community Forum:

“We live in very difficult times and there is no knowing what the future holds. So what should we do? There are a lot of suggestions on the internet, but the most reliable website is the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Avoid a lot of fake news from a variety of other sources. My own practice is to continue my healthy lifestyle and strengthen my immune system and spiritual resiliency, which means a good diet, regular exercise, sleep, supplements, prayer and meditation and of course, avoiding gatherings, crowds and travel. I also am staying in prayerful meditations knowing that there is a divine order to the Universe and in faith we collectively will overcome this challenge. Prayers – especially collective ones – are very powerful and I believe always answered. So be sure to be in regular daily prayer for you and others. Stay calm, collected and vigilant. Please know all of you are in my heart, thoughts and daily prayers and meditations.”

You’ll love this short video created by 10-year-old Gabby Coppage of Leawood, using images she selected from the GAGV website. Gabby is in the fourth grade at Brookwood Elementary School. She loves to write and type stories, climb trees, play softball, run track and play with her cousins and friends. She’s the granddaughter of GAGV members Chris and Jim Glenski; her parents are Andrew and Rebecca Coppage.

Here is an inspirational, aspirational and thought-provoking Letter to the Editor published Friday March 27 in the Kansas City Star. It’s the final letter in the series of five.

Remington Arms, the nation’s oldest gun maker, has offered manufacturing space at its Ilion, NY plant to be used for producing much-needed hospital supplies to fight the virus:

Remington Arms plant could switch to making coronavirus supplies in upstate NY

National Volunteer Week is April 19-25

Normally in April we recognize our Volunteer of the Quarter with a surprise presentation at the monthly meeting. Because this month’s meeting has been postponed, we prefer not to wait to recognize Helen Thompson and Mary Dees as our first Volunteers of the Quarter for 2020.

As members of the Advocacy Committee, Helen and Mary initiated and coordinated the effort to write and mail three different informational postcards to elected state officials in both Kansas and Missouri, each postcard stating a verified fact about gun violence. The first postcard was introduced at our February meeting when 250 were written, signed and then mailed. Due to our postponed meetings, the remaining two postcards will be sent when the state legislatures meet next session. Facts never lose their impact, and our legislators need continual reminding of the facts related to gun violence. We’ll “surprise” Helen and Mary with orchids and certificates at our next meeting; hopefully sooner rather than later.

THANK YOU to all our volunteers who participate in Lock It For Love events, bake cookies, sign postcards, contribute to our quarterly charities, attend vigils and many other activities. We can always use more help. Here are a few ways:

  • Display and/or distribute our advocacy yard signs. With spring weather, the signs are easy to place and help spread our message. Email your interest to [email protected] and we’ll deliver the signs to you.
  • Wear your GAGV swag when you venture outside from sheltering in place. GAGV spirit wear is another great way to spread our message and start friendly conversations about gun safety, talking from a safe social distance, of course. GAGV t-shirts, ball caps and sweatshirts are available for purchase at every GAGV meeting.

And if you’ve enjoyed our monthly programs, consider volunteering to help plan future ones. Here are three ways:

  • Join the Program Committee, then meet only three times a year to generate ideas.
  • Handle the planning details for just one program during the year.
  • Suggest ideas for programs you want to see.

As we experience significant changes in our daily routines, this quote from William Arthur Ward, seems especially appropriate for these uncertain times. Ward is an American writer of more than 100 articles, poems and meditations, often seen in Reader’s Digest.

Grandparents Against Gun Violence is a 501(c)(3) organization based in Kansas City, Missouri, that focuses on issues related to gun violence in Kansas and Missouri. We are working with community partners on strategies such as distributing gun locks to help gun owners protect the children in their homes from tragedy.

P.O. Box 11193, Overland Park, KS 66207  |  [email protected]

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