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From Judy Sherry, GGS Founder and President:

Unspeakable. Horrific. Tragic. There simply aren’t enough words to describe what happened at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, TX. But there definitely are words to describe the sentiments of those of us committed to ending gun violence and working for gun safety: Outrage. Commitment. Tenacity. Advocacy.

Already you’ve heard and read the usual, tired evasions: “This is not the time to talk about gun violence.” “We can’t politicize this tragedy.” “Mental health is the problem.” “We need more guns to ensure our safety.” These are hollow words that cannot be tolerated. Not now. Not later. Not ever.

Clearly, easy access to guns along with lax gun laws are the primary causes of the devastating increases in homicides and mass shootings. And while a majority of the public supports background checks and other laws to curb this public health epidemic, our elected “leaders” ignore us. That must stop.

And so, we reaffirm our commitment to the vision that all members of our community feel safe from gun violence, and we invite each of you to Stand With Us in raising our collective voices. In this newsletter you’ll read about our upcoming Community Forum focused on advocacy and the many ways to make your voice heard.

You can start right now: demonstrate with us on National Gun Violence Awareness Day Friday June 3 (details below) and attend our important June 27 program.

Vote Like Your Life Depends on It: Because It Does.

GGS Monthly Meeting & Program
Monday, June 27
4:00 – 5:30 pm
Colonial Church in Prairie Village
7039 Mission Road

We know how important the upcoming August 2 primary is for Kansans and how critical the November mid-terms will be for all of us. We need to support like-minded candidates who share our mission to end gun violence and defeat those candidates who don’t. Our supporters are committed voters; sadly, many others are not. Consequently, our June program will focus on strategies to Get Out The Vote (GOTV). We’ll hear from Michael Poppa, Executive Director of the Mainstream Coalition, about its innovative Voter to Voter project and Anita Austin, program director for Topeka-based Loud Light, an organization working to increase civic engagement, especially among young people.

Don’t miss this important in-person meeting!

Note: We loved the energy of being in-person at our May meeting and are encouraged that so many attended. There was ample room for social distancing and masks were optional. We’ll continue being vigilant about the CDC’s COVID-related protocols and if any changes are recommended, we’ll respond quickly with a hybrid plan and Zoom link.

Recap of May’s Program: Stopping Violence Before It Starts

Who knew KCMO’s Operation Breakthrough wasn’t just for babies and very young children? Mary Esselman, President and CEO, described programs designed for children through high school and for their parents as well. Every program is based on helping children feel safe and learning coping skills to manage difficult circumstances at home and in school. Programs include Smart Lab, Maker Space and Ignition Lab, which all require supplies funded through donations. To learn how you can help, see Operation Breakthrough’s wish list.

Recognize National Gun Violence Awareness Day June 3

Now more than ever is the time to focus on the epidemic of gun violence and its terrible toll. The majority of the public supports common ground gun reform, and our presence will reinforce the public’s support. Wear orange or your new GGS SWAG! Bring your own poster or Vision Quilt panel. We’ll also have small GGS signs available.

We’ll be joined by Moms Demand Action KC, so we hope to have a sea of orange and red to demonstrate our solidarity. You can help by copying and distributing this flyer.

9th Annual Community Forum Oct 10: Exciting News!

We’re delighted to announce the keynote speaker for our annual Community Forum on gun violence: Josh Koskoff, the Connecticut attorney who won a $73 million settlement for nine Sandy Hook families after they sued Remington, the manufacturer of the AR-15 assault-style rifle used in the 2012 mass shooting at the Newtown, CT elementary school.

Mr. Koskoff devoted seven years advocating for his Sandy Hook clients, illustrating the need for tenacity and creativity in advocacy efforts. We look forward to hearing his story and learning how to adapt his efforts to our own. Watch this space for more Forum updates.

Welcome, New GGS Board Members

The GGS Board of Directors welcomes three new members: Jan Brunks, Maribeth Brenneman and Lisa Veglahn.

Jan takes on the new dual role of secretary-treasurer after the recent retirements of Charlotte Davison and Lona Harris. Most recently Jan staffed the GGS office before the arrival of administrative assistant Katie Cangelose.

Maribeth is an outside sales representative for General Mills and Lisa is the senior vice president for education at the Hospice Foundation of America.

Read more about these new Board members.

New GGS board members Jan Brunks, Maribeth Brenneman and Lisa Veglahn

Clearly, there’s a connection:

Gun violence has now surpassed motor vehicle crashes as the leading cause of child mortality.

U.S. gunmakers manufactured 187% more firearms in 2020 than two decades ago. That’s according to figures in a 308-page report released last month by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives. It was the first comprehensive assessment of gun trafficking the agency had undertaken since 2000.

GGS Member Spotlight: Nick Hockman

Some 25 years ago, the 14-year-old grandson of one of Nick Hockman’s co-workers was shot and killed when a friend tossed him a loaded 44 Magnum pistol that went off. Accidentally.

“I went to the wake, saw this boy’s classmates and it tore me up,” Nick said. “So, if we can save one kid who picks up a gun that can’t go off because it’s locked, well then, we’ve saved someone.”

Last fall Nick found himself with a different kind of firearm, a compressed air gun, when he accepted a GGS invitation to participate in the Kansas City Police Department’s simulation of three “shoot or don’t shoot” scenarios, also known as officer involved shootings. “I can’t imagine going through that with real bullets flying; my adrenaline was really pumping,” Nick said after the experience. “I was just proud I didn’t ’kill’ anyone!”

His real life of retirement is much calmer. He’s a beekeeper who sells honey locally under the label Sail-Flower Honey. That name comes from another of Nick’s hobbies: sailing. As a member of the local Sailing Society, he teaches sailing at Shawnee Mission Park through Johnson County Parks and Recreation Dept.
Nick grew up in southeastern Ohio. After graduating from technical school, he began working for Hobart Corporation in Troy, OH, where he eventually became an engineering liaison concentrating in commercial refrigerated equipment. His 36 years with Hobart included a transfer here in 1991 where he and his wife Barbara decided to stay after he retired permanently in 2013. They live in Shawnee and have two daughters and three grandchildren.

Say Their Names

As we do every month, we say the names of victims in the metro area who have died from gun violence. This month’s list is particularly poignant because many of the victims were also young.

In the Media

Last month KCPT aired the documentary The Gun Conundrum, a comprehensive overview of gun violence in KC from many angles including homicides, accidental deaths and suicides. The program includes a brief interview with Dr. Denise Dowd, one of our Children’s Mercy Hospital mentors, who discusses suicides and preventative strategies. If you missed the program or want a second viewing, watch here.

Our friends at Free Hot Soup, who host weekly picnics for homeless people, were covered on Mother’s Day by KSHB TV. GGS Board member Maribeth Brenneman was among those interviewed. Watch here.

Here’s an excellent and succinct overview of Five Facts About Guns in America.

Don’t miss this excellent and hopeful article about ending gun violence. It can be done! We can reduce gun violence in the U.S.

Mark Your Calendar

Friday, June 3
National Gun Violence Awareness Day
4:00 to 7:00 pm
Mill Creek Park by the Plaza Fountain in KCMO
We’ll have small signs for you to hold or bring your own. Wear orange or your new GGS SWAG.

Saturday, June 4
Mainstream Coalition’s Walk the Vote
10:00 am rally and program
Beginning at Thompson Park, 8045 Santa Fe Drive in Overland Park
Wear your orange and find GGS Board member Lisa Veglahn and her team at #pleasevote.

Monday, June 20
GGS tour of Veterans Community Project’s Tiny Homes
1:00 pm
8825 Troost in KCMO
Space is limited to 25 participants; to reserve your spot, contact GGS member Mary Conner

Monday, June 27
GGS Monthly Meeting and Program: Vote Like Your Life Depends on It. Because It Does.
4:00 to 5:30 pm
Colonial Church in Prairie Village, 7039 Mission Road

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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