A personal note from GAGV Founder and President Judy Sherry

The horrific shootings in Boulder and Atlanta call upon us to share our thoughts, our sympathy and above all our fervent hope for change. These two tragic events meant 18 people didn’t make it home to their families, leaving holes in their hearts forever. And unbelievably, that same week five more mass shootings (defined as four or more people killed) got little or no media attention. Schools, places of worship, movie theaters, even grocery stores are no longer safe from gun violence.

We cannot accept this any longer; here are actions we can take now:

Remember by name those lost to gun violence in Atlanta and Boulder.

The images below are from Nancy Bardos a long-time supporter of our partner organization, Vision Quilt, who  felt a strong inner calling to express her grief and pain in a creative way, much like many people who make the quilts. See some developed here in Kansas City. Nancy used her iPad and the image of hands to memorialize and honor the names of the victims. The number of hands corresponds with the names. 

Know basic facts to share about gun violence in our country.

  • The most fundamental one: there are too many guns in America. At last count Americans owned 393 million of them, more than the entire U.S. population of 328.2 million. That’s a higher rate of gun ownership than any other developed country in the world, thus we have a higher gun death rate as well. While mass shootings capture the media’s attention, they account for a tiny fraction of gun deaths.
  • Existing lax gun laws coupled with a refusal by federal and state lawmakers to respond to the public’s will, rather than the gun lobby’s, contribute to gun violence. A clear majority of the public supports expanding background checks, closing gun show sale loopholes, extending the waiting period for buying firearms, and preventing their sale to severely mentally ill people and those who have committed violent crimes.
  • Last year firearms killed approximately 40,000 people. Of those, two-thirds (26,400) died from suicide or accidents and one-third (13,600) from homicide, which includes the 1% to 2% who were victims of mass shootings.

So our hope for change requires our elected officials to stop offering thoughts and prayers and finally listen to the public. It’s past time for them to do the right thing and pass sensible gun regulation. And it’s time for us to demand they do.

The recent mass shootings evoked strong emotions. Click here to read a powerful poem by Ron Faust, a retired minister and local activist with Peaceworks, one of our partner organizations.

And Here in Kansas City

We lost 16 people to homicide in March. We say their names here:

      The Gun Gap: Understanding Attitudes and Voting Patterns of Owners vs. Non-Owners

      Monday, April 26
      4:00 to 5:30 pm
      Zoom Meeting:  Link will be sent Sunday April 25

      This month we continue listening to different voices discussing gun violence, as a way to understand others and hopefully find common ground to support gun safety. Join us to hear Mark Joslyn, professor of political science at the University of Kansas and author of The Gun Gap: The Influence of Gun Ownership on Political Behavior and Attitudes.

      Professor Joslyn will share his research illustrating how the number of guns an individual owns may define that owner politically. Among the professor’s findings: the more guns owned, the more likely the owner will vote Republican.

      In March, we heard from Kansas City Star reporters Humera Lodhi and Kaitlin Washburn, who work on the Missouri Gun Violence Project. The reporting project is a statewide effort examining gun violence and its causes, consequences and solutions. Humera and Kaitlin discussed similarities and differences of what gun violence looks like in Missouri’s urban and rural communities. You can read the March minutes here or view the recorded meeting on our website.

      April is National Volunteer Month, and we congratulate and thank the many GAGV volunteers who serve on various committees, participate in Lock It For Love events, attend our monthly meetings and join as dues-paying members.

      We also appreciate our new and renewing members who support GAGV’s work to prevent gun violence. Whether you have time to get personally involved in GAGV or cheer us from the sidelines, please know we value your membership. Your support adds strength to our voice when we advocate for change in our community.

      Names represent members from January through March 2021.

      New and Renewing Members:

      John Burris, Peg Billick, Suzanne Bremser, Patricia Brown, Rita Clifford, Susan Cohen, Marilyn Curtis, Ardie Davis, Susan Davison, Enid & Jim Dickson, Jody Dinkins, Ann Hall, Kathryn Hockley, Jan Hodgson, Paula Labart, Harriet Lawrence, Sandy Lerner, Ritchie Lynne, MJ McCall, Mary Jane Mitchell, Trudy Nepstad, Marsha Owen, Bob Peters, Susan Rawlings, Mary Rogers, Debra Rubin, Bill Ryan, Martha Sharp, Phyllis Stevens, Roys Thedinger, Renee VanErp, Donna Wald, Nancy May Vohs and Peggy Zilm

      Special thanks to our Grand Members who joined at the $100 level:

      Margaret Boomer, Jan Brunks, Mary Connor, Donna Euston, Joan Jacobson, Jeannie Long, Mary Marnett, Barb McNeile, Lenora Springer, Janet Winkler, Julie & Tom Young and Mary Fran Zeller

      GAGV Member Spotlight: Peg Billick

      As comptroller and then IT director for Helzberg Diamonds for 15 years, Peg Billick was the perfect “security blanket” when her longtime friend Lona Harris considered taking on GAGV treasurer’s job four years ago. “I told her I’d help if she ever needed it, but I knew she wouldn’t. She’s a math teacher!” Peg said with a laugh. “I just follow Lona everywhere,” including joining GAGV.

      The two have been friends for more than 50 years, beginning in Ottawa, Kansas, when their husbands were young professors at Ottawa University. Peg and Lona have traveled to Colorado, New York City and Peru over the years for hiking adventures and they walk together most Tuesdays, weather permitting.

      That’s when they exchange mail. Peg picks up GAGV’s mail at the Overland Park post office box near her home and gives it to Lona, who lives in KCMO, and picks up mail for Peg who is treasurer of the Greater Kansas City Area Committee of the National Museum for Women in the Arts.

      Besides handling GAGV’s mail, Peg has volunteered with Lock It For Love and once stored 600 gun locks in her basement for several months when extra storage space was needed. Before the pandemic, Peg regularly attended GAGV’s monthly meetings and continues to Zoom in. “The programs especially have been very good,” she said.

      Peg is in her sixth year of volunteering with the IRS to help lower income seniors prepare their taxes. In the spring she works in her garden and keeps long-distance tabs on her son, daughter and three teenaged grandsons.

      GAGV Extends Coast to Coast

      In recent months, GAGV president Judy Sherry has been zooming with her counterparts in Seattle, WA and Cape Cod, MA. Together the three drafted and sent a letter to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy urging their support of SB 529. It’s the Senate version of HR 8 expanding background checks and closing gun sale loopholes. Click here to read the letter.

      The trio’s next collaboration is a group introduction zoomed among the respective organizations. To that end, Judy and Seattle’s Margaret Heldring will speak to Cape Cod’s Grandmothers Against Gun Violence on Wednesday April 7, at 11 am CST. Many of their members have attended GAGV’s Zoom meetings; we hope you’ll join the meeting!

      Zoom link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86321583097?pwd=Mjl6MHQvQ2R6QkhGRldnbUlEMzA1UT09
      Meeting ID: 863 2158 3097
      Passcode: 776368

      Advocacy Action

      In recognition of upcoming Mother’s Day and GAGV’s commitment to the safety of children, we’ll resume our postcard mailings to lawmakers this month, specifically the U.S. Senators from Missouri and Kansas. The postcards will ask the senators to support SB 529, which includes the two background check bills passed by the U.S. House.

      We’ll provide postage-paid postcards and addresses to our members on Tuesday, April 27, from 2:00 to 4:00 pm at Colonial Church. Members can drive by to pick up their cards and receive up to 10 more for friends and relatives. GAGV is also offering 50 cards to several like-minded groups in the KC metro area.

      Mark Your Calendar

      Cape Cod GAG Meeting
      Wednesday, April 7, 11:00 am
      See Zoom link above

      GAGV Office Hours
      Tuesday, April 13, 10:00 am – Noon
      Colonial Church in Prairie Village
      7039 Mission Road

      GAGV Monthly Meeting
      The Gun Gap: Understanding Attitudes and Voting Patterns of Owners vs. Non-Owners
      Monday, April 26, 4:00 – 5:30 pm

      Advocacy Postcard Pickup
      Tuesday, April 27, 2:00 – 4:00 pm
      Front circle drive of Colonial Church in Prairie Village
      Purchase GAGV swag if you’d like!

      GAGV Monthly Meeting
      Troubles of the Thin Blue Line
      Police and the Pressures They Face
      Monday, May 24, 4:00 – 5:30 pm

      8th Annual Community Forum
      Gun Violence: Strategies to Curb This Public Health Epidemic
      Monday, October 11, 9:00 am – 12:30 pm, Virtual

      News You Can Use

      Read this great Letter to the Editor from GAGV member Loren Stanton in The Kansas City Star, Sunday March 28. Loren’s letter was complemented by three others illustrating the public clearly supports firearms regulation. Click here to read the letters. 

      Many excellent articles and editorial cartoons have been published since the Boulder and Atlanta shooting, including this one from the Sacramento Bee. It is a sad, but true, commentary on thoughts and prayers in Congress.

      Though some newspapers require online readers to be subscribers, the links are here for those having access:

      The New York Times: How to Reduce Shootings

      The Guardian: Everything about America’s gun debate is wrong – here’s why

      The New York Times: Ready to Nag About Gun Control?

      The Washington Post: Here’s how other countries have responded to mass shootings

      “There are probably 30 to 40 firearms on this (House) floor right now and has been for many years,” according to Kansas Rep. Blake Carpenter, Republican from Derby, during debate about concealed carry legislation, as reported by Kansas Reflector on March 4, 2021.

      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]

      Donate to Grandparents Against Gun Violence

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