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Because our usual meeting date falls during Thanksgiving week, we’ve moved the GGS meeting one week earlier, to Monday, November 15.

So please update your November calendar to attend this first-time meeting of coast-to-coast grandparent groups all working to curb gun violence.

After Sandy Hook: Coast-to-Coast Camaraderie and Commitment

Monday, November 15
4:00 to 5:30 pm via Zoom
(Zoom link to be sent Saturday, November 13)

This year marks the ninth anniversary of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary that riveted the nation, devastated families and prompted the creation of at least three grandparent groups committed to making communities and their children safer from gun violence. November’s meeting will highlight those groups along with personal insights from the brother of a Sandy Hook student who survived December 14, 2012.

Paul Samberg, who grew up in Newtown, CT and is now a senior at the University of Kansas, will share the experiences of his younger brother, then only seven years old, and how he and the rest of his family have dealt with the trauma resulting from the shooting.

Then we’ll meet our sister organizations from Massachusetts and Washington: Grandmothers Against Gun Violence, Cape Cod and Grandmothers Against Gun Violence, WA state. Our organizations share much in common, beginning with each group’s founding in the wake of no Congressional action taken after the Sandy Hook shooting that claimed 27 victims, 20 of them children.

Join us to learn about the common threads connecting the groups plus what different avenues each has pursued in curbing gun violence. You’ll hear from Donna Wald, Cape Cod President, and Margaret Heldring, Washington Co-Chair, as they describe successful projects they’ve undertaken in their respective communities and their accomplishments to date. We hope to be joined by the boards of each organization and many of their members as well. This may be the beginning of many more collaborative events in 2022 and beyond.

More Updates from the Forum

Thanks to those who completed the evaluation whose results show the Forum was well received. To further illustrate the ongoing impact of our Forum speakers, consider these articles about their recent activities:

Chris Harris of Harris Park discussed the impact improving living environments has on reducing gun violence. Read about the dedication of the Ryan Stokes Memorial Basketball Court at Harris Park: Daughter filled with pride as Ryan Stokes Memorial Court is dedicated in Kansas City, Missouri.

Giffords Law Center in San Francisco, whose executive director Robyn Thomas was our Forum moderator, filed a lawsuit alleging the NRA violated the Federal Election Campaign Act. Read more about the case here: Giffords v. FEC.

And Forum keynote speaker Dr. Megan Ranney continues appearing regularly in the media discussing the public health ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic. At the Forum, Dr. Ranney described the similarities between identifying and treating the spread of COVID and the spread of gun violence. She also noted the CDC has done no research on gun violence since 1996, the year Congress approved the Dickey Amendment which prohibited funding such research. Dr. Ranney’s call for renewed research is now supported by the CDC and its current director, who has also called gun violence a threat to public health. Read more: Gun Violence Is an Epidemic. Better Data Can Help.

Every 16 hours somewhere in the U.S. a woman is fatally shot by a current or former intimate partner. Read more: How America’s Gun Laws Are Failing Domestic Violence Victims

Member Spotlight: 23-Year-Old Avery Gray

Seven years ago, budding 16-year-old actor Avery Gray was auditioning at the Jewish Community Center when a shooter opened fire, shooting and killing two people. One of the victims was 14-year-old Reat Underwood, with whom Avery had acted in Damn Yankees, a Theatre in the Park production the previous summer.

“Obviously, the whole experience was extremely difficult and very traumatic,” Avery said in a phone call from New York, where she now lives and works. “It really was the beginning of my journey working on social justice issues, including gun violence.”

Her involvement with Grandparents for Gun Safety began in 2020 when, as a social media adviser in Chicago, she suggested better ways of using social media to promote the organization. She helped launch the GGS Instagram account, recommended posts and more recently was part of the communications committee’s work changing the organization’s name.

Avery also knew of the organization through her grandmother and GSS member, the late Barbara Freidberg. Avery attended Blue Valley North High School before moving with her family to Chicago and completing high school at the Chicago Academy for the Arts. She then graduated from New York’s American Musical and Dramatic Academy, majoring in musical theater.

Now living in upper west side Manhattan and working in marketing for a private Pilates studio, Avery continues auditioning for parts in film and television while also writing a romantic comedy screenplay, composing its music and still posting on Instagram for GGS.

“We’re so fortunate to have Avery helping us develop messages to appeal to younger people who can stand with us,” said Judy Sherry, GGS president and founder. “She’s a perfect example of why it’s so important to spread the word to people of all ages.”

Say Their Names

To date there are 183 homicides in the metro area compared to 186 in 2020. In Kansas City alone, there are 128. These are the 15 lives lost since our last meeting on September 27. 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.

128. Unknown victim on October 26
127. Unknown man on October 25
126. Devin Jacobs, 18, on October 24
125. Rodrick Taylor, 38, on October 24
124. Unknown man on October 22
123. Darryl Gilland, 28, on October 22
122. Andre Green, 47, on October 16
121. Michael Parks, 17, on October 13
120. Derrez Green, 16, on October 13
119. Avery Williams, 21, on October 12
118. Zachary Davignon, 21, on October 12
117. Ruben Chacon, 31, on October 8
116. Kanen Wheaton, on October 2
115. Devon Key, 24, on October 2
114. Johnnai Owens 23, on October 2

Mark Your Calendar

November 15: GGS monthly meeting, 4:00-5:30 pm (Zoom)
After Sandy Hook: Coast-to-Coast Camaraderie and Commitment

November 25 – December 31: Happy Holidays! No GGS meeting in December.

December 14: Commemoration of 2012 Sandy Hook shooting. Watch for emails about plans.

January 24, 2022: GGS monthly meeting 4:00 – 5:30 pm (Zoom + in-person)
Housing for the Homeless: Strategies to Get That Done


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Grandparents for Gun Safety

P.O. Box 8617

Prairie Village, KS 66208-0617

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