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Reducing Homicides: Begin at the Beginning

GGS Monthly Meeting & Program
Monday, July 24
4:00 – 5:30 pm
Colonial Church in Prairie Village
7039 Mission Road

An escalating toll of gun homicides continues plaguing Kansas City, putting the city on pace to record its deadliest year ever. And summer, traditionally a violent season with temperatures and tempers rising, has only just begun.

What has also started is a renewed effort by city, federal and nonprofit leaders to join forces in a combined effort to stop homicides before they start.

Join us July 24 to hear Melesa Johnson, KCMO’s recently named Director of Public Safety, discuss Partners for Peace; Darren Faulkner, Program Manager for KC Common Good, outline its anti-violence program called KC 360; and an officer from the newly-formed KCPD Community Engagement Division explain how being physically visible in the community can build life-saving relationships.

The three speakers will focus on how reducing the homicide rate begins with improving the lives of people often ensnared in cycles of violence. Poverty, lack of educational opportunities, unemployment and underemployment form a toxic mix that can lead to gun violence and end in homicide.

Nationally, homicides account for one-third of the 49,000 lives lost to gun violence each year. Last year was KCMO’s second deadliest year for homicides with 171 lives lost. This recent story from The Kansas City Star delves deeper into the problem: ‘A crisis’: After violent weekend, Kansas City is on pace for worst year in homicides.

So join us July 24 to learn what’s underway in the metro area to reduce homicides. Bring a friend to educate, too.

10th Annual Community Forum Keynoter Survived Mass Shooting

A summer evening of camaraderie and fun ended tragically for two of Brandon Wolf’s best friends and 47 others who were killed in the 2016 mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, FL.

Luckily, Brandon survived. In the seven years since the shooting, he’s become an outspoken advocate for gun reform. At 6 pm on Monday, October 9, at the Plaza Library, he’ll bring his keynote message of “action, not words” to Gun Safety: Generations Standing Together, GGS’ 10th annual Community Forum on gun violence prevention.

As an inspiring speaker and advocate for gun reform, Brandon has appeared on national broadcast media and testified before Congress. He also advocates for LGBTQ+ rights. See him discussing his commitment to both issues in this three-minute video.

Now 33 years old, Brandon will be joined at the Forum by activists from other generations. They’ll discuss how people of all ages can combine efforts to curb gun violence, which claimed 49,000 American lives last year.

Brandon joins a long list of nationally recognized speakers who have headlined the Forum. His just-released memoir, A Place For Us, explores issues of “self-discovery and resilience in the face of adversity.” We hope to have copies available at the Forum.

The Forum is GGS’ only major fundraiser that supports its advocacy work, educational programs, and its Lock It For Love (LIFL) initiative. In its six years, LIFL has distributed more than 5,500 free gun locks in the metro area. Please consider joining the group of early sponsors. Your name and other early supporters will be included in a Forum invitation letter to be mailed later this month to a large list of prospective attendees. Click here to add your sponsorship name. Individual tickets to the Forum go on sale August 28.

News You Can Use

The Washington Post and the global research firm Ipsos asked 400 owners of AR-15 rifles to explain their reasons for ownership. A third of them got it wrong.

The survey listed 15 different reasons for owning an AR-15, and 33% of the respondents chose “self-defense and protecting my family.” That’s despite widely accepted research studies showing a gun in the home makes families less safe. According to the Brady United Against Gun Violence, access to a gun in the home increases by 300% the risk of death by suicide; suicides and preventable accidents account for two-thirds of all gun deaths.

Compared with Americans as a whole, the AR-15 owners surveyed were significantly more likely to be white, male and between the ages of 40 and 65; they lived in red, blue and purple states.

Other reasons for owning an AR-15, each chosen by 12% to 15% of the respondents, included exercising Second Amendment rights, target shooting, sports/recreation/fun and hunting.

If you’re a print or digital subscriber to The Washington Post, read the full article here.

Even more troubling, production of these frequently called “weapons of war” continues to increase:

Still, There’s Some Good News

In June, the U.S. Senate defeated a House-passed resolution calling for the repeal of the ATF’s regulation on pistol braces, accessories that make firearms more deadly.

A pistol brace has been part of the weapons used in several mass shootings. It attaches to the back of a firearm making it longer and more stable. A shooter can then strap the extended weapon to his forearm, making it easier to pull the trigger with one hand.

The ATF rule in question covers firearms originally designed to be fired from the shoulder but later outfitted with pistol braces. With the added accessory, the more lethal weapons are then defined as short-barreled rifles which are regulated by the National Firearm Act. Gun owners possessing such firearms are now required to remove the brace, register it and pay a fee, or forfeit or destroy the firearm.

“This is a tremendous win for the (gun violence prevention) movement, unimaginable even just a few years ago,” according to Mark A. Collins, director of federal policy at Brady United Against Gun Violence. If the resolution had passed, President Biden had previously warned he would veto it.

Did You Know?

Here’s the fourth postcard in the Advocacy Committee’s Postcard Project now being sent to state and federal lawmakers, urging passage of safe firearm storage legislation. Thanks go to committee volunteers Mindy McDermott and Lynne Bock for coordinating this advocacy effort.

State Legislators Say Advocacy is Making a Difference

Sending postcards, calling lawmakers directly, meeting with them in person, and attending committee hearings on gun-related bills are all making a difference in Topeka and Jefferson City, according to four legislators from Missouri and Kansas who spoke to some 60 people at GGS’ June program.

“Gun violence affects everyone, in some way,” said Missouri Rep. Emily Weber. “That’s why we’re thankful for your advocacy, and we need more of it.”

Rep. Weber was joined by Missouri Sen. Lauren Arthur and Kansas legislators Sen. Ethan Corson and Rep. Linda Featherston who all agreed advocacy produces impact. They reviewed some of the “good, bad, and ugly” gun-related bills introduced during their just-ended legislative sessions.

While noting several bad and ugly bills were proposed and gained some traction, the legislators pointed to at least one good outcome in their respective states. In Missouri, “Blair’s Law” was finally passed after years of effort. The new law cracks down on celebratory gunfire by making it a criminal offense to discharge a firearm within a city’s limits. And in Kansas, lawmakers upheld Gov. Laura Kelly’s veto of the so-called “Eddie Eagle” legislation. It would have required school districts across the state to include in their curricula the NRA-sponsored Eddie Eagle “gun safety” program, which independent studies have shown to be ineffective.

“It is possible to change minds,” Rep. Featherston said of upholding the Eddie Eagle veto. “When it comes to gun violence, we are not the minority (wanting change) and we should quit acting like it.”

Sen. Corson believes working in the 2024 campaigns of like-minded candidates is the best way to get gun reform and safe storage legislation passed. “A sea change in the Kansas Legislature is possible if we get a few more people in the right seats.” he said.

Find the recording of the meeting here.

Our excellent panel of state legislators inspired us to continue our advocacy efforts and suggested additional ones, too. 

GGS Website Offers New Online Features

July 1 marks the switch to GGS’ new online vendor that offers many user advantages, including a Members Only Directory (with an opt–out feature if you prefer), an Events Calendar and an online store to buy t-shirts, caps, sweatshirts, and other GGS swag.

As a member, you can access the Members Only Directory by setting up a new account within Membership Works on the GGS website. Your previous username and password will not work with the new vendor.

Click here to reach the My Account link, and follow the prompts to request a new password. With your new password, you can log in to the My Account page and get access to the Members Only Directory, which is password protected as a member benefit. After your account has been created, you’ll be able to access it quickly and easily from the tool bar on the home page.

The online store is available to anyone who accesses our website.

If you have questions or need help, email us and we’ll respond as soon as we can.

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 17 victims since our last newsletter, to honor their lives, while we keep true to our vision that one day everyone in our community will be safe from gun violence.

Mark Your Calendar

This month marks the 6th anniversary of Lock It For Love
GGS volunteers have distributed more than 5,500 free gun locks at 210 community events in the metro area.

Tuesday, July 4 Happy Independence Day!
Enjoy it safely  

Monday, July 24 GGS Monthly Meeting & Program
Reducing Homicides: Begin at the Beginning
4:00 to 5:30 pm
Colonial Church in Prairie Village, 7039 Mission Road
Meet in the first floor sanctuary.

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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