A New Year’s Message from Judy Sherry, GGS Founder & President
Welcome to 2023!
This new year ushers in our 10th year of working to curb gun violence and keep our communities safe. Building on that history, we’ll continue promoting a culture of firearm safety through fierce advocacy actions and relevant programming.
We’ll keep advocating for common ground gun laws in Kansas and Missouri as well as on a national level. It’s a tall order to be sure since many state and federal lawmakers seem to respond only to pressure from extremists and pass gun laws reflecting their opinions, not the opinions of most Americans. This lack of moral conscience and political courage makes the U.S. the country with the weakest gun laws and the most firearms of any comparable nation on the planet: 393 million firearms or 120 weapons for every 100 people.
Even so, I believe there’s hope. Public opinion has swung to our side. We see more Americans of all ages speaking up and speaking out. The public now demands solutions to the public health epidemic of gun violence, including enacting stronger firearm reform legislation and requirements for safe storage. For the first time in 30-plus years, Congress passed a firearms reform bill last June: The Safer Communities Act. While it’s a positive start, much more needs to be done.
That’s why we’ll continue adding our voice to the public’s and keep working with national gun violence prevention groups pressuring for universal background checks and a federal ban on assault weapons. And we’ll never lose focus on Kansas and Missouri.
So please, Stand With Us! Help support our new year’s resolve to expand our educational programming and advocacy efforts, capitalize on the new wave of public outrage and collaborate with like-minded partners, especially the Gen Z generation with its energy, its commitment and the media skills to make preventing gun violence a national priority.
Looking forward to a happy, healthy, safe and successful 10th anniversary year!
The Firehose of Falsehood: Countering Misinformation & Disinformation
GGS Monthly Meeting & Program
Monday, January 23
4:00 – 5:30 pm
Colonial Church in Prairie Village, 7039 Mission Road
In this era of 24/7 news coverage and social media, we’re continually bombarded with information. Unfortunately, much of what we see and hear is either unintentional misinformation or calculated disinformation. The latter’s dangerous power feeds on peoples’ frequent failure to distinguish fact (carefully researched and verified) from fiction (often emotionally charged and opinionated).
This month we’re fortunate to be joined by Devin Hughes, founder and president of GVPedia, an organization providing studies, white papers and fact sheets about gun violence. He’ll share his knowledge about misinformation and disinformation, how to tell the difference and strategies to counter each.
While this month’s meeting will be in person, Devin will be joining us live on Zoom from Norman, OK, where he teaches at the University of Oklahoma. He’ll be available to answer questions at the end of his presentation. Friends from Grandmothers Against Gun Violence in Cape Cod will join us on Zoom for Devin’s representation as well.
NOTE: The Social Hall in the lower level is closed for renovation, so we’ll meet in the sanctuary on the main level. You may park in the lot along the back of the building and enter through the lower-level double doors. The parking lot to the south of the building along 71st Street also is available with access to the front of the building. Doors will open at 3:30 pm, so come and socialize before the meeting. Greeters at the doors will guide you to the sanctuary.
Ms. Sherry Goes to Washington
Analyzing new gun violence research and sharing ways to work effectively with the media were among the high points for GGS president Judy Sherry who attended the States United to Prevent Gun Violence conference in Washington, D.C. last month.
States United is the only national organization that supports independent, state-led gun violence prevention groups. Currently its 32 state affiliates focus primarily on education and advocacy in their home states. While most of the affiliates represent their entire state, GGS is recognized as a single local organization representing parts of Kansas and Missouri.
Among conference participants was Manny Oliver, whose son Joaquin was killed in the February 2018 Parkland mass shooting. Manny gave a very moving presentation of the work he and his wife Patricia do to honor Joaquin’s memory. The Olivers travel across the country in a converted school bus talking to teens about gun violence prevention.
Devin Hughes, founder of GVPedia, whose “Firehose of Falsehood” will be presented at the GGS January meeting, also attended the conference.
Participants at the States United conference last month included GGS President Judy Sherry, second from left in the second row. Manny Oliver, whose son Joaquin died in the Parkland mass shooting, is seated on the floor next to Sonya Coleman, States United board chair. Our January speaker, Devin Hughes of GVPedia, is standing fourth from the right in the back row.
Sandy Hook Remembrance
Some 30 GGS friends and supporters gathered at Colonial Church on December 14, 2022, the 10th anniversary of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School that claimed 26 lives. Each of the 20 children and six educators killed that day was briefly profiled and remembered. Coverage of the gathering aired on local affiliates WDAF-TV and KMBC-TV.
Top left: Julie Young, Program Committee Chair, shared her thoughts on that solemn day. GGS President Judy Sherry spoke on camera.
Preventable Deaths and Lock It For Love
Along with holiday cheer came the tragic news of two young children who shot and killed themselves with loaded, unlocked guns in their families’ homes: 4-year-old Roman Andrews of Kansas City, KS, died at his mother’s home the Monday after Thanksgiving, and 3-year-old Quezariah Jackson, died on Christmas Eve.
While the media continues to refer to these deaths as accidental, clearly the more accurate word is preventable. “It’s not an accident,” Justin Andrews, Roman’s father, told a local TV reporter. “An accident is he fell off the playground, ran in the street. Those are accidents. But you leaving a loaded gun chambered, not safetied – that’s not an accident.”
Had the firearms been locked and safely secured, Roman and Quezariah would not have had access to them and their deaths could have been prevented.
Sadly, according to the CDC, more children in America now die from gun violence than from car crashes and cancer. In fact, in 2021, children younger than five were among the groups with the highest rates of death from preventable shootings.
Prevention is the driving force behind GGS’ Lock It For Love educational program. Its purpose: encourage gun owners to lock and securely store their weapons by providing free, high-quality gun locks. Since LIFL began in 2017, its volunteers have distributed 5,224 gun locks at 195 community events throughout the metro area. GGS feels confident the program has prevented at least one toddler from being shot or a teen or adult from taking his/her own life.
While continuing its presence at community events, LIFL now plans to expand its distribution system by providing gun locks for other groups and organizations to distribute along with educational materials on safe weapon storage. Potential partners include pediatric practices, schools and other violence prevention nonprofits. According to the CDC, Missouri is among the five states with permissive gun laws that recorded the highest rates of unintentional shooting deaths in 2021. The others are Michigan, Louisiana, Kentucky, and South Carolina.
If your organization is interested in potentially partnering with LIFL, contact Barb McNeile.
Remembering GGS Member Judy Rieck
GGS remembers longtime member Judy Rieck of Overland Park who died Dec 9, 2022. Judy had requested a table of GGS materials be displayed at her funeral and also named Grandparents For Gun Safety a recipient of donations made in her memory. Read her obituary here.
Thank you to Judy Rieck’s daughters and daughters-in-law (Jill, Nancy, and Cathy) who artfully displayed GGS materials at her memorial service.
News You Can Use
Republicans Are Breaking With the NRA, and It’s Because of Us
For the first time in decades, Republicans in Congress are taking our demands seriously. They are finally less afraid of the NRA than they are of us.
Last spring, a key pollster for Everytown and Giffords explained why a breakthrough was on its way. “There has been a shift in the emotion of Americans from sadness after mass shootings to rage,” she explained. “People are increasingly mad in these moments, and that anger is activating.” Sadness is demoralizing and demotivating, she said.
If you subscribe to the New York Times, click here for the full article.
Republicans: Fear the Young
Gen Z and millennial voters held back the red wave in last November’s midterm elections. Stressed and sickened by thoughts of their rights and democracy slipping away, young Americans across gender, racial, geographic, and educational lines banded together to help save the Democrats from what many foresaw as a sizable midterm defeat. Thanks to young voters (especially the 18-29 age group, which had the second-highest turnout in midterm elections in almost 30 years, according to early estimates from Tufts University), Democrats retained the Senate, showing that an alliance of Gen Z and millennial voters answered history’s call to defend democracy.
If you subscribe to the New York Times, click here for the full article.
2022 News Quiz
Put on your orange or gray GGS thinking cap and see how accurately you remember the organization’s high points of 2022. Some questions have more than one correct answer, so select all that apply. Find all the answers at the end of this newsletter; no peeking, please!
- Last April, the KCMO City Council passed a resolution which GGS helped shepherd through many meetings and departments. What did the resolution acknowledge?
a. Owners of firearms should be required to buy liability insurance
b. Gun-owning parents should hide firearms from their children
c. Owning firearms poses increased risks of suicide, accidental deaths and homicides
d. Cities need to offer residents free firearms training
- Last year GGS hired its first part-time employee to do what?
b. Edit the monthly e-newsletter
c. Book speakers for the monthly programs
d. Handle administrative responsibilities
- What was unusual about last Fall’s annual Community Forum?
a. For the first time, the Forum featured live music
b. For the first time in two years, the Forum was held in person
c. For the first time, the Forum was attended by the Governor of Kansas
d. For the first time, the Forum was held on a Tuesday
- Connecticut attorney Josh Koskoff was the Forum’s keynote speaker. He spent eight years representing several Sandy Hook families who sued the company that manufactured the AK-15 assault rifle used in the school shooting. Name the company.
a. Smith & Wesson
- Last February, Mr. Koskoff won a then-landmark financial settlement for the families. How large was that settlement?
a. $7.3 million
b. $73 million
c. $173 million
d. $730 million
- GGS was frequently mentioned in the media in 2022 including which outlets?
a. The Kansas City Star
b. KCUR & KMBC
c. KSHB & KCTV
- Lock it For Love, GGS’ signature program, distributes free, high-quality gun locks at community events throughout the metro area. How many gun locks has the program distributed since its start?
a. 3,210 gun locks in 3 years
b. 4,058 gun locks in 4 years
c. 5,224 gun locks in 5 years
d. 6,340 gun locks in 6 years
- GGS’s monthly educational programs draw an average of 60 to 70 attendees, in person and online. Which topic was NOT the subject of a GGS program last year?
a. The Alarming Rise of Ghost Guns: Some Assembly Required
b. Education: Stopping Violence Before It Starts
c. Homelessness & Hunger: Mitigating Risk Factors of Gun Violence
d. Vote Like Your Life Depends On It
- GGS reps were invited to speak last year at which venues or programs?
a. Claridge Court in Prairie Village
b. March For Our Lives rally in KCMO
c. National Grandparents Day in Washington, DC
d. Stand With Us! in Jefferson City
- 2023 marks the 10th anniversary of GGS. What event sparked its founding?
a. The expiration of the federal ban on assault rifles
b. The mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School
c. A CDC study showing the presence of a firearm in a home increases the risk of death and injury
d. The mass shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado
- Beginning with 30 friends and colleagues meeting in a small community room at Prairie Village City Hall, GGS has grown to an established nonprofit with how many current members?
- GGS collaborates with many like-minded advocacy groups, here and around the country, including which organizations?
a. Children’s Mercy Hospital Kansas City
b. Ad Hoc Group Against Crime. KCMO
c. The Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council
d. Newtown, CT, Action Alliance
Say Their Names
Following are another 20 lives lost to firearms since November 29. That brings the total to 256 homicides in the metro area since the start of 2022. We say their names while we keep true to our vision that one day everyone in our community will be safe from gun violence.
Mark Your Calendar
Sunday, January 1
Happy New Year!
Wishing everyone a happy, healthy, and fulfilling 2023
Monday, January 16
Martin Luther King, Jr., Day
Monday, January 23
GGS Monthly Meeting and Program: Countering Misinformation & Disinformation
4:00 to 5:30 pm
Colonial Church in Prairie Village
7039 Mission Road (meeting in the Sanctuary)
Answers to Quiz:
- a, b, c
- a & b
- a, b, c, d
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.