Guns, Grief and Grace
Panelists, community members discuss solutions to gun violence at Public Library event.
Debra Gillespie lost her only son to gun violence. She has a message to other parents of victims:
“You need to get out there, once you’re able and strong. We need to make changes so others won’t experience what we’ve experienced.”
The founder of Mothers Against Gun Violence and member of the League of Women Voters of Milwaukee County, Gillespie was one of about 100 people who attended a public program on gun violence called “Guns, Grief and Grace in America: Everyone’s Toolkit.” The event at the Milwaukee Public Library Mitchell Street Branch, 906 W. Historic Mitchell St. was co-hosted by the LWV, Milwaukee Public Library and a coalition of groups working to educate citizens about gun violence using a public health framework.
The program began with a moment of silence for the victims of the Parkland, Florida, high school shooting that had occurred just three days prior.
The purpose was to talk not only about mass shootings, but accidental shootings, suicide, homicide and domestic violence as public health issues.
Panelist Dr. Barbara Moser, chair of the Prevent Suicide Greater Milwaukee Coalition and family practice physician, stressed the danger of guns when it comes to suicide. According to 2014 data from the Centers for Disease Control, the rate of suicide by firearm was nearly double that of homicide by firearm. Free gun locks were available at the event.
Dr. Michael Levas, who specializes in pediatric emergency medicine at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin and the Medical College of Wisconsin and treats many child victims of shootings, noted, “This is not just a black issue or white issue, a kid issue or adult issue, an NRA issue or non-gun owner issue. This is a whole society issue, and we can’t look away anymore.”
Attendees formed small groups to talk about ways to address gun violence. All were encouraged to record their personal stories, feelings and experiences related to the issue in the library’s sound studio.
Simone Lewis-Turner, 16, recorded her story about losing friends and family members to gun violence and why she works to prevent that from happening to others. She knows how gun violence can cause life-long trauma, especially among children.
“We shouldn’t have to go through that. Even though we might not personally have a gun or carry one or have someone in our family, it’s still within our communities. Why are people not feeling safe to walk outside because somebody got shot the morning before?” said the Milwaukee High School of the Arts student and member of Urban Underground. “Until we start speaking up about it and making change, it’s going to keep happening.”
Expressing frustration with the fact that despite community conversations about gun violence, nothing really changes, Lewis-Turner took the microphone and offered her own question to the panelists and the audience, “How are we going to make the change an action?”
Levas added that those who resist changes to the status quo are really good about sticking to a strong, steady message. “I think the next step here is to have a unified message that stays on point that’s equally focused,” he said, emphasizing the importance of depoliticizing the conversation and focusing on gun violence as a pressing public health concern.
Anne Golden, president of LWV of Milwaukee County, said it’s difficult to be optimistic about solutions to gun violence in the U.S., but she was encouraged by the many hopeful community members who offered their ideas. The majority of attendees said in an evaluation of the event that it is “very likely” that gun violence can be reduced in Milwaukee.
This story was originally published by Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service, where you can find other stories reporting on eighteen city neighborhoods in Milwaukee.
More about the Gun Violence
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- The Time for Universal Background Checks is Now - State Sen. Jon Erpenbach - Aug 15th, 2019
- Hesselbein Supports Common Sense Background Checks - State Rep. Dianne Hesselbein - Aug 15th, 2019
- Representative Lisa Subeck Joins Governor Evers, Democratic Colleagues Introducing Universal Background Check Legislation - State Rep. Lisa Subeck - Aug 15th, 2019
- Wisconsin Democrats Announce Universal Background Checks Bill, Call on Republicans to Act - Gov. Tony Evers - Aug 15th, 2019
- “I Don’t Have the Answer” to Mass Shootings - Laurel White - Aug 14th, 2019
- Survivor of Gun Violence Opposes the Death Penalty - Erik Gunn - Aug 10th, 2019
- Dem Lawmakers Push Bill to Tax Guns - Erik Gunn - Aug 9th, 2019
- Rep. Robyn Vining Echoes Call to Action Against Gun Violence - State Rep. Robyn Vining - Aug 8th, 2019
- Rep. Anderson Introduces Legislation to Create a Statewide Fund for Victims of Gun Violence - State Rep. Jimmy Anderson - Aug 7th, 2019
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- Representative Lisa Subeck Praises Federal Background Check Expansion Act Introduction - State Rep. Lisa Subeck - Jan 9th, 2019
- U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin Helps Introduce Background Check Expansion Act To Reduce Gun Violence - U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin - Jan 9th, 2019
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- Governor Walker Orders Flags to Half-Staff Following Tragedy in Santa Fe, Texas - Gov. Scott Walker - May 18th, 2018
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- Why Student Activists Did 50 Mile March - Will Kenneally - Apr 20th, 2018
- Roys Marks 19th Anniversary of Columbine Shooting - Kelda Roys - Apr 20th, 2018
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- Tom Palzewicz Releases Comprehensive Gun Safety Reform Plan - Tom Palzewicz - Mar 20th, 2018
- Dana Wachs Responds to Gov. Walker’s Short-Sighted School Safety Plan - State Rep. Dana Wachs - Mar 15th, 2018
- Gov. Walker fails to act on gun safety - State Sen. Jennifer Shilling - Mar 15th, 2018
- No Child Should Ever Feel Unsafe in School: Governor Walker Calls $100 million Special Session on School Safety - Gov. Scott Walker - Mar 15th, 2018
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- U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin Cosponsors Critical School Safety Legislation - U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin - Mar 6th, 2018
- Representative Subeck Statement on Governor’s Comments on School Safety - State Rep. Lisa Subeck - Mar 1st, 2018
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- Guns, Grief and Grace - Elizabeth Baker - Feb 28th, 2018
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