Misinformation & Disinformation in the Media:
Handle with Care!
GGS Monthly Meeting & Program
Monday, February 27
4:00 – 5:30 pm
Colonial Church in Prairie Village, 7039 Mission Road
What do local media editors and reporters do when misinformation and disinformation cross their desks and computer screens?
Find out at February’s program when they continue the discussion Grandparents began with last month’s program on the differences and dangers of disseminating mis- and disinformation. At this meeting, we’ll hear from local media practitioners Matthew Waggoner, News Director at KSHB, and Ian Cummings, Assistant Managing Editor/Breaking News at The Kansas City Star. They’ll share examples of disinformation and how their respective news outlets respond. As always, there will be an opportunity to ask the panelists questions.
NOTE: This will be an in-person meeting in the sanctuary. Parking availability changes based on the church’s construction progress, so we’ll include updated instructions in the mid-month meeting reminder.
January recap of “The Firehose of Falsehoods”
A record 103 people, in person and on Zoom, heard the best way to combat disinformation is to “inoculate” with accurate information our friends, family, neighbors, colleagues, legislators, and all forms of media.
In his Zoom presentation, Devin Hughes, founder and president of GVPedia, said, “We’ve got to deploy the vaccine of truth” in preventing disinformation from infecting the public. And just as medical professionals did during the pandemic, “we’ve got to focus on at-risk populations” including those easily swayed by emotions rather than facts, he added.
Among the Zoom attendees were 12 viewers from Grandmothers Against Gun Violence in Cape Cod. The 40+ minute presentation was recorded. If you missed the meeting or want a second showing, click here. And if you’d like to receive GVPedia’s e-newsletter, click here.
Use These Ways to Advocate for Gun Safety
A perfect ending to January’s meeting was the opportunity for attendees to personally address and sign postcards to their Kansas and Missouri state legislators containing three preprinted confirmed and sourced facts about gun violence. One of the most important: the statistically-proven “Guns don’t make you safer.”
Lynne Bock and Mindy McDermott of the GGS advocacy committee organized the postcard project with more to come. We can all do our advocacy part by “inoculating” our elected officials with facts. If you missed the meeting and want postcards to send, pick up some of the remainders at the GGS office in the church at 7039 Mission Road. Arrange your pick up by emailing us.
Here’s another advocacy opportunity developed by GGS members Carole and Dave Webster after its mention last fall by Connecticut attorney Josh Koskoff, the keynote speaker at our annual Community Forum.
The Websters researched which of the well-known banking and insurance companies finance and/or insure weapons manufacturers. As current or potential clients and customers, we can tell these institutions we’ll take our business elsewhere if they continue supporting the gun industry. Here is the Websters’ list and a suggested letter each of us can send to those companies.
Our many advocacy actions help support the initiative by KCMO Mayor Quinton Lucas, who co-chairs the national Mayors Against Illegal Guns committee. Mayor Lucas has joined 30 other U.S. mayors in identifying four gun manufacturers who together were responsible for 27,000 guns recovered from crime scenes in 2021.
Another key part in holding the firearms industry accountable for its part in the nation’s gun epidemic is informing the public which companies are responsible for creating, manufacturing, marketing and profiting from firearms. Read more here: NEW DATA: 31 Mayors Against Illegal Guns Cities Release New Analysis on Manufacturers of Crime Guns.
Partners for Peace Helps Gun Violence Victims – And So Can You
Preventing gun violence is Grandparents’ mission, but what happens when prevention fails?
A new program recently launched in Kansas City, Missouri, brings together city agencies, local nonprofits, police and prosecutors with a singular objective: helping families who become victims of gun violence.
Partners for Peace is spearheaded by Melesa Johnson, deputy chief of staff for KCMO Mayor Quinton Lucas, and Maj. Kari Thompson of KCPD’s Community Engagement Division. They meet weekly to assess where gun violence has occurred the previous week. Later they and their colleagues canvass those geographic areas, knocking on doors with offers to help with rent, food, jobs training, counseling, and more.
Last week Grandparents’ Lock it For Love contributed 24 gun locks for the canvassing. More involvement is planned, including showing those children affected by gun violence that our Grandparents group cares. Toward that goal, please consider bringing to February’s meeting new small stuffed animals, story books, coloring books, crayons and other art supplies that Grandparents will collect for Partners for Peace to distribute. Thank you in advance!
Offering a variety of help, members of KCMO’s Partners for Peace canvass a neighborhood that experienced gun violence earlier this year. Melesa Johnson (lower left corner), Mayor Quinton Lucas’ deputy chief of staff, spearheads the program.
Looking Back: Our First Ten Years
During our anniversary year, we’ll share significant achievements and fond memories of Grandparents’ first decade in this space. Here are a few reminiscences, as told to Judy Sherry, from GGS member Mary Jean (MJ) McCall, who has been with Grandparents from its beginning:
- “In 2013, Mary Sanchez published a column in The Kansas City Star reporting on the efforts of the Cape Cod Grandmothers Against Gun Violence group to try to combat gun violence. I read the article and realized, having just moved back from Alaska, I would have time and energy to pursue this cause!”
- “At the beginning, the group was co-chaired by you and Susan Blaney until Susan moved to Arizona, the treasurer went sailing and another board member left to play bridge!”
- “We had a lot of meetings planning our first Community Forum in 2014 at All Souls Unitarian Church. I ran out of coffee for Mayor Sly James, much to your horror!”
- “We kept having to move the general meetings from library to library as attendance kept growing.”
- “In 2015 we changed the name to Grandparents Against Gun Violence to include men.”
Peggy Zilm, MJ McCall (center) and Barb McNeile staff an early Lock It For Love event at the Overland Park Convention Center.
Among Grandparents’ goals for 2023 and beyond is growing the organization by expanding current programming and other projects. That means more volunteer help is critically needed. GGS is an organization of interested and interesting people, so please consider stepping up and contributing your talents in these important areas:
FINANCE: Love numbers? Help form a finance committee to guide our budget planning.
TRACKING MISSOURI LEGISLATION: Several firearms bills, some good and some bad, have already been introduced this session of the Missouri Legislature. The Missouri League of Women Voters is tracking these bills as they move through the legislative process. We’re looking for someone who could collaborate with the League, so we can be alerted when it’s time to act and support or oppose. (As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, GGS must be careful to avoid certain political activity; individuals have no restrictions.)
MONTHLY PROGRAMS: Help develop interesting, substantive programs about the breadth of gun violence, the strategies for gun safety and the various ways people and organizations in the metro area are working to prevent gun violence.
In addition to being informative, we want our meetings and programs to feel welcoming, especially to guests and first-timers. We need volunteers to help in these areas, too:
- Provide treats for socializing before and after the meeting,
- Greet attendees as they arrive and give directions to the sanctuary if needed. Arrive by 3:30 p.m. to staff an entrance.
COMMUNITY FORUM: We want our 10th annual Forum in October to be the best yet! Volunteer opportunities include planning the program, identifying the venue and contacting speakers, among many other assignments.
We need YOU. Tell us which areas interest you and get started ASAP. Email us and we’ll happily respond.
Since John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, more Americans have died by gunfire within our own country than American servicemen and women killed in all our wars of the 20th century.
– CDC & the U.S. Dept of Defense
News You Can Use
- According to The Trace January 26 newsletter, a landmark U.S. Secret Service report released last month found about 75% of mass attacks in America between 2016 and 2020 involved firearms while about 33% of mass shootings in that same period were carried out by people legally prohibited from possessing guns. Read the full report.
- Last month a PBS interview featured Josh Sugarmann, founder and executive director of the Violence Policy Center in Washington, D.C., a nonprofit organization working to stop gun deaths and injury through research, education and advocacy. The segment again raised questions about the responsibilities of gun owners to better protect children, a concern underlying Grandparents’ Lock It For Love program. “Unfortunately, on the federal level, there are no standards as far as safe storage or limiting child access to firearms,” Sugarmann noted. Watch the full interview here.
- An excellent new book by Paul Auster, Bloodbath Nation, traces centuries of America’s use and abuse of guns, from the violent displacement of Native Americans to slavery to the bitter divide between embattled gun control and anti-gun control camps that’s developed over the past 50 years to the mass shootings dominating today’s news. A portion of the book’s proceeds will be donated to the Violence Policy Center mentioned above. Learn more about the book.
- More on parental responsibility regarding safe storage: gun owners favor requiring parents to lock up weapons. It’s lawmakers who don’t. If you subscribe to The Washington Post, click here to read the article.
- Click here to read a column about preventable gun deaths, by GGS founder and president Judy Sherry that was published last month in The Kansas City Star.
Say Their Names
Last year, Kansas City, Missouri, suffered the second-highest number of homicides in the city’s history, recording 171. When including other nearby cities, the metro area recorded 264 homicides.
We say the names of the 12 most recent victims to honor their loss while we keep true to our vision that one day everyone in our community will be safe from gun violence.
Mark Your Calendar
National Gun Violence Survivors Week
Tuesday, February 14
Remembering the 14 students and 3 teachers killed in 2018 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL.
Monday, February 27
GGS Monthly Meeting & Program
Misinformation & Disinformation in the Media: Handle with Care!
4:00 to 5:30 pm
Colonial Church in Prairie Village, 7039 Mission Road
Meet in the sanctuary on the first floor. Come at 3:30 pm and enjoy light refreshments. Bring a friend and socialize!
All members of our community have the right to feel safe from gun violence.
We focus on working for solutions, educating the community and seeking common ground reform that respects the rights of gun owners and non-owners alike.