A Message from Judy Sherry, GGS Founder & President
The month of October was a sad and stressful one with so much death and destruction in the Middle East, Ukraine, and right here in America. The horrendous, tragic and avoidable mass shooting last week in Lewiston, Maine, reinforces the urgent need for legislative reforms to control gun violence.
Again, we ask, ”How many more victims of mass shootings will it take before our elected officials listen to the American public and limit access to weapons designed for the battlefield?” Maine’s U.S. Sen. Angus King said, “We never expected to have that here,” yet Maine received an F in this year’s grading of states’ gun laws by the Giffords Law Center. That’s the nonprofit founded by former Arizona Congresswoman and gun violence survivor Gabby Giffords. (Both Kansas and Missouri also received an F, as their lack of firearm legislation is similar to Maine’s.)
We know lives are saved in states whose voters elect candidates committed to gun reform who then enact strong gun reform laws. With enough votes, we can do that in Kansas and Missouri, too. (Keep reading for “Good News.”)
That’s why GGS is declaring 2024 the Year of the Vote. We must commit to knowing where every candidate running for every office stands regarding gun reform legislation and then work hard for those who do. We promise to provide all the relevant information you need within the federal restrictions on 501(c)(3) nonprofits like ours.
By standing together, we can move closer to achieving our vision that all members of our community have the right to feel safe from gun violence.
Wrapping It Up: 2023 and the Year Ahead
GGS Monthly Meeting & Program
Monday, November 13 from 4:00 – 5:30 pm (Note earlier date)
Colonial Church in Prairie Village, 7039 Mission Road
Meet in the lower level Social Hall
As the year ends, November is a good time to reflect on what we’ve accomplished this year and to share our goals for 2024. At our November meeting, we’ll also recognize supporters who attended our very first meeting 10 years ago and the many who’ve remained active throughout our first decade.
Join us early at 3:30 pm for time to enjoy holiday refreshments and to sign postcards to our state legislators sharing important facts about gun violence.
November is also National Child Safety and Protection Month, so we ask everyone planning to attend the November 13 meeting to bring new, unwrapped toys or games for children being protected in our local domestic violence shelters: Rose Brooks Center in Missouri and Safehome in Kansas. Wish lists: Rose Brooks and Safehome.
You can also contribute by sending a check to GGS at P.O. Box 8617, Prairie Village, KS 66208 (in the memo line please note Toys for Kids) or donate online. Thank you!
Lock It For Love Reaches a Milestone
GGS’ Lock It For Love gun safety educational program has reached a milestone with 6,023 free high-quality gun locks having been distributed since its start in July of 2016. Included in that total: 104 locks distributed October 26 by GGS volunteers Dave and Carole Webster and Ken Hensley at the University Health (formerly Truman Medical Center) Public Health/Safety Fair. That ranks among the Top10 number of locks distributed at a single event.
We’re proud and grateful to the 112 volunteers who have made LIFL so successful by staffing one or more of the 225 community events throughout the metro area.
Sobering and Inspirational: Our 10th Annual Community Forum
If you were among the 250 Forum attendees on October 9, you experienced first-hand the enthusiasm of the crowd, especially the young people who attended, as guests and as speakers. And the standing ovation given to 34-year-old keynoter Brandon Wolf, who survived the 2016 Pulse Nightclub mass shooting, made clear we’re all in this together.
Brandon’s address underscored this year’s Forum theme of Gun Safety: Generations Standing Together. Clearly, even 10 years since its founding, GGS knows much work still needs to be done to prevent gun violence, promote responsible gun ownership and advocate for gun safety.
Comments from multiple generations engaged in a conversation following the keynote speech included these:
- Of the 48,000 lives lost to gun violence last year, Brandon said that night, “We can do better than this.”
- “There’s no reason on earth we should live in fear of guns,” Judy Sherry, GGS founder and president, told attendees. She started GGS after the December 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
- Of minority groups suffering disproportionate levels of gun deaths, KU professor Jomella Watson-Thompson, PhD, said, “We have a right to live.”
- Regarding the years he and his classmates have experienced active shooter drills, college student Sam Kim said, “My generation thinks that’s normal. It’s not.” Sam founded UMKC’s chapter of Students Demand Action.
- And of mental health struggles that can contribute to gun violence, Shawnee Mission East High School student Emma Kuhlman, said, “We need more mental health services and facilities.” She’s co-president of East Against Gun Violence.
Read more, see photos, and hear the Forum recording here.
Katie Cangelose, Carla Oppenheimer, Lisa Veglahn, Judy Sherry, Brandon Wolf, Maribeth Brennaman, Barb McNeile, Jan Brunks, and Gail Roberson. Read more, see photos and hear the Forum recording here.
Sharing Some Good News about Missouri
On October 20, the U.S. Supreme Court left in place a lower court order blocking a Missouri law that invalidates federal gun restrictions. The law, known as the “Second Amendment Preservation Act,” was passed in 2021 and made federal gun restrictions illegal in the state and barred officials from enforcing any law that would “infringe” upon the right to “bear arms.” It also allowed “any person” to sue state law-enforcement agencies that don’t comply with state law.
The federal government sued, contending the state law unconstitutionally usurped federal law and made it impossible for federal authorities in Missouri to carry out their enforcement duties. After appeals failed in lower courts, Missouri took its case to the U.S. Supreme Court and lost there, too!
More Good News from Other States
By electing strong candidates who support gun safety, voters in more states are seeing progress in the effort to curb violence. We can do the same in Kansas and Missouri!
In California, Gov. Gavin Newsom recently signed into law six individual gun safety bills. Taken together, the bills strengthen the state’s public carry regulations, require microstamping identification on handgun cartridges to help trace guns used in crimes, keep guns away from potentially dangerous individuals as well as from people already prohibited for owning weapons, and update the definition of a firearm to include ghost guns. A particularly innovative bill doubles the taxes on guns and ammunition to 11%, generating an estimated $160 million annually for violence intervention programs and school safety upgrades. California received an A grade from Giffords Law Center.
In Massachusetts, the approach differed. One comprehensive bill titled “An Act Modernizing Firearms Law” passed the state’s House of Representatives by an overwhelming majority. The bill includes six areas of gun violence prevention including updating the existing Assault Weapons Ban, dealing with untraceable ghost guns, expanding the categories covered in Extreme Risk Protection orders (Red Flag Laws) and limiting open carry in numerous public spaces.
The bill also refines crime data analysis and addresses equitable funding for community violence intervention programs. The bill now moves to the state Senate for consideration. Massachusetts received an A- grade from Giffords Law Center.
Advocate to the U.S. Supreme Court NOW!
October was Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and on November 7, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear US vs. Rahimi, deciding the constitutionality of a 30-year-old federal law prohibiting individuals subject to restraining orders from possessing firearms.
If overturned, this protection would destroy one of the country’s most critical and foundational safety laws and cost women their lives. We must not allow this Court to overturn past precedent based on its own biases as it did with Roe v Wade.
As quickly as possible, please write letters to the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court so they’re received before the November 7 hearing date. For a sample letter to justices click here. You can use the same one for each justice or create your own. Even though this case will be deliberated beyond November 7, the sooner the justices receive your letters, the better.
Say Their Names
Last year, Kansas City, Missouri (KCMO) suffered the second-highest number of homicides in the city’s history, recording 171. To date the KCMO number is at 155. As of October 26, when including other nearby cities, 195 homicides have been recorded in the metro area since the start of the year.
We say the names of the 16 most recent victims since our last newsletter as a way to honor their lives, while we keep true to our vision that one day everyone in our community will feel safe from gun violence.
Mark Your Calendar
November is National Child Safety and Protection Month
Tuesday, November 7: Election Day
Saturday, November 11: Veterans Day
Remember and honor all who served
Monday, November 13: Final GGS Meeting of the Year
(Note earlier date)
Wrapping It Up: 2023 and the Year Ahead
4:00-5:30 pm, Colonial Church in Prairie Village, 7039 Mission Road
Thursday, November 23: Thanksgiving
Thank you for your ongoing support
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.