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MAY 2023 NEWS

Advocacy & Legislation: Protecting the LGBTQ+ Community

GGS Monthly Meeting & Program
Monday, May 22
4:00 – 5:30 pm
Colonial Church in Prairie Village
7039 Mission Road
 
We read and hear about the LGBTQ+ community almost daily now, with much of the news troubling.
Both Kansas and Missouri are passing legislation that restricts the community’s rights in many ways. Its members are often denied employment, housing, specific health care, participation in school activities and benefits others take for granted. Even libraries are being pressured to eliminate books referring to gender issues and identities.
 
Activists say attitudes toward people identifying as LGBTQ+ are formed by “fear of the other” rather than empathy for their struggles.
 
Join us Monday May 22 to hear from Melissa Stiehler, advocacy director of Loud Light in Lawrence. She’ll be joined by legislators from both sides of the state line who are members of the LGBTQ+ community.

Here’s our chance to stand with our LGBTQ+ neighbors and learn how best to support their members and their cause.

A Year in the Making: Grandparents Uniting for Gun Safety!

On Monday April 24th, Grandparents for Gun Safety joined Grandmothers Against Gun Violence of Cape Cod to launch a new national network of supporters who can respond quickly to firearms issues: Grandparents Uniting for Gun Safety.
 
Representing their respective organizations, Judy Sherry, GGS founder and president, and Donna Wald, president of Grandmothers Against Gun Violence, Cape Cod, are the co-founders of this network. They believe the time is right for a national approach in responding to the horrific barrage of mass shootings and the actions of many states loosening gun laws that increase easier access to firearms.
 
“Members of the public are engaged and enraged and demand that elected officials heed their voices,” according to the joint announcement. Because any meaningful gun reforms must be national in scope, people all over the country are needed to advocate together.
 
Grandparents Uniting for Gun Safety (GUFGS) is registered as a 501(c)(4) nonprofit advocacy organization, allowing its members to speak out about specific proposed legislation and political candidates. The new network will make advocating easy by sending action alerts when phone calls and emails are needed and providing detailed information needed to speak knowledgably. Voters aged 55 and older represent a significant segment in U.S. elections. That means their votes and voices can impact elected officials whose primary goal is re-election.
 
This new network expands GGS’ reach and enhances its profile with other gun violence prevention groups around the country. However, GGS’s mission and vision remain the same as will its monthly educational programs, committee initiatives, community projects and the annual Community Forums. Being part of both GGS and GUFGS means supporters will continue making an impact locally and now nationally.
 
Visit the network’s website and help build its numbers by clicking “Add Your Voice.” While there’s no network membership fee, donations would be appreciated to finance start-up costs. Simply click the donation button. If you have questions about the organization, click here.
 
A special note to GGS members and supporters: your years-long commitment to our mission has brought us to this exciting point; we’re extremely proud of what we’ve accomplished so far together. We look forward to continuing that work until we succeed in the GGS vision that all members of our community have the right to feel safe from gun violence.
 
We believe the addition of Grandparents Uniting for Gun Safety will help move us closer toward reaching that goal. Join us today!
 
See the Zoom recording of the April 24 announcement.

Advocacy Action: We’ve Been Busy!

On the street: In spite of an early start and a rainy morning, Julie Young and Gail Roberson represented GGS at the “Lives on the Line“ demonstration last month. Nearly 100 people lined both sides of State Line at 83rd and Mission Road to demand an end to gun violence. The demonstration was organized by local residents Sara Ennis, Anna Simpson, Annie Noll and Eileen Knoblauch in response to the Nashville school mass shooting March 27.
 
Because the demonstration coincided with the aftermath of the shooting of local teenager Ralph Yarl, it received national attention on both CBS Morning and CBS Weekend News. See the 2.5 minute morning segment here.
 
We look forward to standing with this new group in speaking out at future demonstrations against gun violence.

Left: Sarah Ennis and Julie Young. Right: Gail Roberson and her daughter, Katie Nazir.
 
Safer homes: Last week a group of GGS members toured Charlie’s (Safety Demonstration) House near Children’s Mercy Hospital in KCMO. The house’s 2,800 square foot interior is designed to illustrate how safety measures in living spaces can reduce in-home accidents and keep children safer.

The nonprofit has partnered with GGS in making free gun locks available to its visitors and also helped sponsor last year’s Community Forum. Some 11,000 virtual tours of Charlie’s House have been taken. 

Some of the GGS members who toured Charlie’s House last week.

 
Stuart Hoffman, Executive Director of Charlie’s House, demonstrated safety features of a crib.
 

Lock It For Love

Requests for Lock It For Love distributions arrive almost weekly, and willing GGS volunteers are busy staffing them. It’s only May and requests for Back-to-School events in August are already coming in. Distributing the free gun locks at community events is easy, fun and decidedly worthwhile. Watch for LIFL opportunities in emails from Sign-Up Genuis!

 
Left: Chiefs mascot KC Wolf makes a perfect LIFL volunteer! Center: GGS member Janey Pryor and KCPD Community Interaction Officer Andy Hamil staff a LIFL table at the Foster Grandparents In-Service Training program at Robert J. Mohart Center in KCMO. It was the 200th LIFL event. In its six years, LIFL has distributed 5,295 free gun locks. Right: GGS member Carole Webster and KC Wolf staffed a LIFL event at Accept Zero Run/Walk Suicide Awareness Event in Waterfall Park, Independence, MO.

Looking Back: Our First Ten Years

During this anniversary year, we are sharing stories about longtime members and volunteers who’ve made an impact throughout GGS’ first decade.

A School Drill Like No Other
 
In 40 years of teaching at parochial, private and public schools, GGS member Linda Brown had handled drills for fires and tornados. This, however, was new: an active shooter drill.
 
“It makes me tremble to think about even now,” Linda said, remembering that spring day four years ago, rushing her students across an open field to ‘safety’ at a nearby church. “With shootings happening almost every day, sometimes it seems hopeless, but that’s why I’ve stayed with GGS all these years because I do believe we can make a difference.”
 
It was 10 years ago that Pat Russell, a close friend and fellow member at Saint Andrew Christian Church in Olathe, invited Linda to a GGS program. “Pat said I’d appreciate what the group was trying to do,“ Linda recalled. “And she was right, because I’ve been educating, advocating and participating (the three bywords of GGS) my entire life.”
 

Linda and her husband Ray, also an active GGS member, grew up in Kansas City, KS. Theirs was a neighborhood filled with childhood pals who became lifelong friends, including GGS members and fellow teachers Jim and Patti Regan and Dr. Tom Russell, who soon brought Pat into their circle. (The GGS Volunteer of the Quarter is named in Pat’s memory.)

Linda has lent her enthusiasm and creativity to many GGS projects. With her encouragement, several Saint Andrew members created panels for Vision Quilt. The Browns staff Lock It For Love events and volunteer at the annual Community Forums. “We’ve got to keep working and searching for answers so we can all feel safe,” she said.
 
Outside GGS, the Browns enjoy traveling, hiking and bike riding. They have two sons, one in Lawrence and one in Phoenix, AZ, plus nine grandchildren.

Here’s a sneak peek at this month’s Advocacy Postcard & Facts being sent to Kansas and Missouri elected representatives and senators. Postcards will be available for your signatures at the May 22 meeting.

  • During the 10-year period the federal assault weapons ban was in effect, mass shooting fatalities were 70% less likely to occur compared to the periods before and after the ban.
                    Source: Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence
     
  • Assault weapons have been used in the seven deadliest mass shootings in the last decade.
                     Source:  Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence
     
  • 67% of Americans support an assault weapons ban.
                     Source: Brady United

News You Can Use 

Assault-style weapons have recently garnered a great deal of focus in the media and state legislatures. Sadly, Congress seems unmoved to enact legislation similar to the 10-year federal ban on “the manufacture, transfer or possession of semiautomatic assault weapons” that ended in 2004.
 
Last week, Washington became the ninth state to restrict the sale of military-style semiautomatic weapons such as AR-15s and other powerful rifles often used in mass shootings. The other states are California, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, Illinois and Delaware. In signing the new law, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said there was no legitimate purpose for such weapons. New York Times subscribers can read the article here.

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 22 most recent victims as a way 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

May is National Mental Health Awareness Month
 
Saturday, May 6
A celebration and a reception remembering GGS member Gloria Hiller will be held at Saint Andrew Christian Church, 13890 W. 127th Street, Olathe at 11:00 am.

Read Gloria’s obituary here. If you’re unable to attend, contact the church after the service for a link to the recorded service.
 
Sunday, May 14
Mother’s Day

Love and appreciation to all our GGS moms! ❤
 
Monday, May 22
GGS monthly meeting & program
Advocacy & Legislation: Protecting the LGBTQ+ Community
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

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Prairie Village, KS 66208-0617

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