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FEBRUARY 2024 NEWS

Advocating Made Easy: Yes, You Can!  

GGS Monthly Meeting & Program
Monday, February 26
4:00 – 5:30 pm
Colonial Church in Prairie Village, Social Hall
7039 Mission Road

Along with casting ballots in this Year of the Vote, GGS encourages another key way of making your voice heard: advocating.

It’s easier than you may think to connect with lawmakers, share your views and ask for their support for gun safety. Whether you feel comfortable sending emails, making phone calls, writing postcards, or visiting in-person, that’s advocating!

At February’s program, you’ll hear experienced GGS advocates share tips and other tools designed to make your advocating more successful and even fun. Members Dave and Carole Webster will focus on Missouri and Advocacy Chair Carla Oppenheimer on Kansas. They’ll explain many advocacy actions applicable to both states as well as some differences.

Because both legislatures are currently considering gun-related bills, now is a critical time to sharpen your advocacy skills. This will be an interactive, tutorial session, so bring your laptop, iPad, or phone and take notes.

Join us February 26 to stand together and make our voices heard loud and clear.

Because the sun sets earlier, DID YOU KNOW? postcards to legislators will be available for signing before the meeting. Come early at 3:30 pm, enjoy a treat and support GGS’ advocacy efforts to encourage lawmakers to vote for gun safety. At the same time, pick up your free VOTE button, too.

GGS Advocates Visit State Lawmakers

Early last month, Advocacy Chair Carla Oppenheimer along with eight GGS members traveled to Topeka and met with legislators. The legislative session had not yet begun, so legislators were more readily available. The GGS group had good conversations with several people, including Sen. Dinah Sykes, Senate minority leader of Lenexa. A second Topeka trip is planned for next week and another planned in March.

Also advocating in Topeka was Grace Springer, the Olathe East High School student who spoke at GGS’ August 2023 meeting. She testified at a legislative committee considering HCR5020, an amendment to the state constitution that would recognize the right to bear arms as a “fundamental right.” Grace described the terror she felt during and after a shooting at Olathe East in 2022. Read more in this guest column from the KC Star.

On the Missouri side, Dave and Carole Webster did a two-day blitz last month. They met personally with more than two dozen legislators and their administrative staffs sharing GGS hopes for a productive session.

Of particular interest is the pending passage of Blair’s Law (SB788) making the unlawful discharge of a firearm a felony. The bill is named after 11-year-old Blair Lane of Kansas City who was killed in her backyard by celebratory gunfire on July 4, 2011.

The Websters know the Advocacy Action Alerts help. Emails from GGS helped three good gun reform bills make it into Missouri Senate committees and raised a significant voice opposing two bad bills in the Missouri House. Progress of the bills is being closely monitored.

GGS members Carole and Dave Webster with House Minority Floor Leader Crystal Quade (center) in Jefferson City.

More Ways Advocates Try Reining In the Gun Industry

Owning stock and limiting advertising are recent novel ways to advocate for and hopefully achieve gun reform.

For example, a coalition of activist nuns from four states is pursuing an unusual legal tactic to pressure Smith & Wesson to alter the marketing of its popular AR-15 style rifle, the weapon used in several recent mass shootings.

The group of nuns from Michigan, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Oregon collectively own 1,000 shares of stock in the company, according to the New York Times. In December, they filed a shareholder lawsuit in federal court alleging the gunmaker’s leaders are putting shareholders at risk by exposing the company to liability.

Attorney Josh Koskoff, GGS’ 2022 Forum keynote speaker, pioneered the strategy of suing gun manufacturers for their advertising. He won a $73 million settlement on behalf of nine Sandy Hook families against Remington for its advertising of the Bushmaster brand.

Because advertising has helped fuel the proliferation of guns, limiting its impact has also gained lawmakers’ attention. Consider:

  • An Illinois gunmaker produced a .22 rifle in a scaled-down AR-15 version for children. The Wee1 Tactical JR-15 has drawn criticism from California Gov. Gavin Newsom and fueled a new law prohibiting its marketing.

  • Wilson Combat’s $2,500 “Urban Super Sniper” rifle is so precise, its .223 caliber rounds can hit within an inch fired from 100 yards. Its ad led U.S. Rep. Tom Malinowski of New Jersey to introduce a bill directing the Federal Trade Commission to clamp down on gun ads.

See examples of these ads and several more.

Two organizations that routinely promote messaging that helps fuel the $9 billion annual revenue of the firearms industry are the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) and the NRA.
 
The NRA represents gun owners while the NSSF is the official voice of the gun industry. While the NSSF isn’t as well known as the NRA, the two groups share many of the same goals and both contribute to the gun violence epidemic by their marketing and promotion.
 
Both focus on growing the market for firearms of all kinds, including assault weapons, and putting more guns in the hands of Americans. In fact, the NSSF Board is made up of executives from the country’s largest gun companies including Smith & Wesson and Daniel Defense, whose AR-15 style rifles were used in both the Highland Park, IL and Uvalde, TX mass shootings.
 
Because the NRA is more outspoken and visible, the NSSF has largely gone unnoticed. However, its 10,000 members are double the 5,000 members of the NRA. In recent years, the NSSF also has spent twice as much as the NRA on lobbying efforts. That makes the NSSF even more influential and warrants increased scrutiny. 

Every day in America, 107 people are killed by guns.
                                                       
Source: Everytown for Gun Safety

Say Their Names

Kansas City experienced its deadliest year on record in 2023, when there were 185 killings in the city. Across the metro area, more than 240 people died by homicide. As of the start of 2024, the Kansas City Metro has recorded five homicides.  

We say the names of the most recent victims as a way to honor their lives, while we keep true to our vision that all members of our community have the right to feel safe from gun violence.

Mark Your Calendar

Wednesday, February 14: Valentine’s Day
Also the 6th anniversary of the mass shooting that killed 14 students and three staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL

Wear Orange Day
This initiative on the 14th of every month honors the victims of Sandy Hook who died on the 14th of December 2012, and encourages conversations about the epidemic of gun violence.
 
Monday, February 19: Presidents’ Day

Monday, February 26 : Advocating Made Easy: Yes, You Can!
Colonial Church in Prairie Village, Social Hall, 4:00 pm
7039 Mission Road
Come early to sign postcards to legislators!

Our Vision

All members of our community have the right to feel safe from gun violence.
 

Our Mission

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.

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Grandparents for Gun Safety

P.O. Box 8617

Prairie Village, KS 66208-0617

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