A New Year’s Message from Judy Sherry, GGS Founder & President
Welcome to 2022!
This new year ushers in our ninth year of working to curb gun violence and keep our communities safe, and we look forward to continuing to promote a culture of firearm safety. That continues to be challenging since many legislators are responding to pressure from extremists and passing gun laws that reflect their opinions, not the opinions of most Americans.
In fact, numerous laws lessening restrictions on firearms were passed in 2021, with five states passing permit-less carry bills and 12 states, including Missouri, enacting laws to prevent America’s modest federal gun laws from being enforced. These and other measures passed in earlier years make ours the country with the weakest gun laws and the most firearms (393 million) of any comparable nation.
While this is alarming, there is hope. We know Americans want solutions to the public health epidemic of gun violence, and some forward-thinking legislators are reacting to the increase in violence by enacting common ground firearm reform. Last year, 28 states and the District of Columbia passed 73 strong bills, and gun safety advocates in 15 states prevented bills sponsored by the gun lobby from becoming law.
These facts and many others (including details of gun legislation in Kansas and Missouri) are cited in the Giffords Law Center’s 2021 Trend Watch. I urge you to read this comprehensive report so you can see progress is being made despite severe opposition. Every strong law that’s passed is a gain for those of us striving to reduce gun violence. Read the full report here.
Each of us can play a part in supporting that progress by following the example of Greta Thunberg, the Swedish activist who at age 15 went on a school strike to protest inaction about climate change and inspired millions around the globe. In an interview published last week in the Washington Post, she discussed the need for “massive pressure” from the “outside” (public voices) to galvanize serious policy action. Greta and other millennials and Gen Xers will show us the way.
We hope you’ll Stand With Us as we expand our work to become a “massive movement” and tell every elected official and candidate for office in no uncertain terms we are not willing to accept living under laws that reflect the will of the minority rather than the majority. We need them to know they cannot win elections by appealing to extremists.
Onward and upward to 2022!
Homelessness & Hunger: Mitigating Risk Factors to Gun Violence
GGS Monthly Meeting
Monday, January 24
4:00 – 5:30 pm in person + Zoom.
Please note: Based on CDC COVID-related protocols, those who feel comfortable and are vaccinated and masked will meet at Colonial Church, 7039 Mission Road in Prairie Village, with seating safely spaced. We’ll send a Zoom link Saturday, January 22.
Among the ways experts say gun violence can be prevented is minimizing risk factors that can foment it, homelessness and hunger among them.
Building on our commitment to understand the breadth of challenges faced by people who are homeless in our community and the strategies in place to address them, we’ll hear from GGS member Maribeth Brenneman who’s active in a local, volunteer-driven program called Free Hot Soup, which was founded by Nellie McCool.
Maribeth and Nellie will share details of the program that provides free food every Sunday in a designated public park in the metro area. They’ll share stories from their Sundays in the park, the people they serve and the Free Hot Soup volunteers who join them.
For those planning to attend in person, please consider bringing items to support the life-saving work of Free Hot Soup and the volunteers who prepare food in their own kitchens. They appreciate ingredients such as canned vegetables, broth, meats and dry pasta.
“Our (homeless) friends are so grateful for homemade food, the kind that comes from the heart,” Maribeth said. So, if you prefer making your best brownies or other favorite recipe to share, Maribeth and her cohorts will gladly pick up your prepared food contributions on any Saturday, to be shared in the park the next day – simply email Maribeth.
Free Hot Soup volunteers will also happily distribute your donations of previously worn warm clothing including socks, sweaters, sweatshirts and especially men’s boots.
GGS is growing and expanding its efforts in the community and across the country. So, we’re ready to enhance our success by making our first hire: an Executive Assistant to work with the Board of Directors and volunteer committees to help manage new and ongoing projects and increase community outreach. Check out the job description and share with anyone you think might be interested. Details on where to send the resume are included in the job description.
More than 2/3 of gun owners voice support for gun safety measures including background checks, red flag laws and prohibiting firearms possession by those convicted of domestic violence.
– National Survey of Gun Owners, Beacon Research, September 2021
Working with Our Coast-to-Coast Partners on Ethan’s Law
Four years ago, Ethan Song, a Connecticut teenager, accidentally shot himself with an unsecured gun. Now a bill honoring his memory by setting federal standards for safe gun storage is working its way through Congress, and GGS members can help.
Once action plans are finalized, we’ll join the advocacy efforts of our grandparent partners in Massachusetts and Washington along with Ethan’s mother and the Newtown Action Alliance, which was founded after the Sandy Hook shooting. A first step will be thanking the 168 co-sponsors of the U.S. House bill and urging others in both the House and U.S. Senate to support and pass their respective bills.
In addition to setting federal standards for safe gun storage, Ethan’s Law would give individual states incentives to create and implement their own safe gun storage laws. Connecticut has already passed a version of the Congressional bills.
Say Their Names
These are the 16 lives lost since our last newsletter. We say their names while we keep true to our vision that one day all people in our community will be safe from gun violence. The total of 160 homicides is less than 2020’s 182, the highest in Kansas City’s history. This makes us hopeful, though there is still much work to do to bring this tragic number down.
145. Donald McDaniel, 60, December 5
146. Mondrell Smallwood, 33, December 6
147. Ja’Braughn James, 24, December 6
148. William Mason, 40, December 6
149. Jamell Hornbeck, 32, December 7
150. Edmon Alexander, 54, December 8
151. Corey Haley, 34, December 13
152. Kaleb D. Martin, 17, December 14
153. Barry Sims III, infant, December 16
154. Roman Yslas, 46, December 21
155. Devin Burton, 32, December 22
156. Jason Harris, 37, December 23
157. Antonio Griddine, 30, December 24
158. Clifford Harris, 23, December 25
159. Naaman Williams, 46, December 27
160. Dennis Hyman, 40, December 29
GGS Year in Review Quiz: Test Yourself!
The past year was an eventful one for GGS and its supporters. Take a few minutes to see how much you remember from the year that was. (Answers are at the end of this newsletter; no peeking!)
1. In September the organization changed its name for the second time. What were its previous two names?
a. Grandmothers Against Gun Violence
b. Grandmothers for Gun Safety
c. Grandparents Against Gun Violence
d. Grandchildren Should Be Safe
2. Last year GGS began collaborating with two other grandparent groups that focus on gun violence prevention. Those groups are in which states?
a. Massachusetts and California
b. Washington and Connecticut
c. California and Vermont
d. Massachusetts and Washington
3. As in every year, the 2021 annual GGS Community Forum webinar on gun violence was held on which holiday?
a. Memorial Day
b. Columbus Day
c. Veterans Day
d. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
4. Megan Ranney, MD, was the keynote speaker at the 2021 GGS Community Forum. Besides being an advocate for treating gun violence as a public health epidemic, in what other area of public health is Dr. Ranney noted?
b. Eating disorders
5. Dr. Ranney is frequently interviewed by the media about her areas of expertise. Choose the media outlets where she’s been featured.
a. The New York Times
6. After the accidental shooting of a child in October, what local TV station featured GGS president Judy Sherry urging the safe storage of firearms?
7. In November, the Kansas City Star published Judy’s Letter to the Editor about what topic:
a. the diminishing influence of the NRA
b. the ongoing trauma felt by Sandy Hook families
c. the critical need for restrictions on ghost guns
d. the staggering increase of firearms sales
8. How many gun locks have been distributed through Lock It For Love since July 2017?
9. You and how many others receive the GGS monthly e-newsletter?
10. This year will mark which anniversary of the founding of GGS?
Mark Your Calendar
Monday January 17: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day observed; federal holiday
Monday, January 24: GGS Monthly Meeting
Homelessness & Hunger: Mitigating Risk Factors to Gun Violence
Colonial Church in Prairie Village
7039 Mission Road
Hybrid program, in person & Zoom
Answers to Quiz!
- a & c
- a, b, c, d