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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- U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin Helps Introduce Background Check Expansion Act To Reduce Gun Violence - U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin - Jan 9th, 2019
- Senator Larson & Representative Bowen: Call on Gun Manufacturers to Prioritize “Smart Gun” Technology and Other Gun Safety Measures in Order to Reduce Gun Violence - State Sen. Chris Larson - Sep 13th, 2018
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- Governor Walker Orders Flags to Half-Staff Following Tragedy in Santa Fe, Texas - Gov. Scott Walker - May 18th, 2018
- Bryce Releases Statement on Santa Fe High School Shooting - Randy Bryce - May 18th, 2018
- 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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- Governor Walker Signs $100 Million School Safety Plan into Law - Gov. Scott Walker - Mar 26th, 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
- I stand with our children - Ald. Chantia Lewis - Mar 14th, 2018
- National Walkout Day: I Sit in Solidarity with Students - State Rep. Jimmy Anderson - Mar 14th, 2018
- Youth Council measure urges support of National School Walkout Day and March for Our Lives - City of Milwaukee Youth Council - Mar 13th, 2018
- Mayor Tom Barrett, City Leaders Call For Gun Safety from Children - Mayor Tom Barrett - Mar 12th, 2018
- The State of Politics: School Safety Bill Renews Gun Debate - Steven Walters - Mar 12th, 2018
- The Intersection of Guns and Race - State Sen. Lena Taylor - Mar 8th, 2018
- 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
- Roys calls on Walker to pass common sense gun reform during proposed special session on gun violence - Kelda Roys - Mar 1st, 2018
- Op Ed: Thoughtful Discussion Needed on Guns - Kyle Hagge - Mar 1st, 2018
- Guns, Grief and Grace - Elizabeth Baker - Feb 28th, 2018
- The time for action on gun violence is now - State Sen. Jennifer Shilling - Feb 28th, 2018
- The Contrarian: The Real “Gun Nuts” - George Mitchell - Feb 26th, 2018
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- Bryce Calls on Speaker Ryan to Meet with Students from his District - Randy Bryce - Feb 21st, 2018
- Republicans block school shooting precautions - State Sen. Jennifer Shilling - Feb 20th, 2018
- Passage of Senate Bill 408 - State Sen. Chris Larson - Feb 20th, 2018
- Republican Bill Would Put Guns in Wisconsin Schools - One Wisconsin Now - Feb 19th, 2018
- Speaker Ryan Chooses Campaign Donors Over South Florida Teacher - Randy Bryce - Feb 17th, 2018
- Dana Wachs Calls for an Overhaul of Assault Weapon Laws and Other Measures to Fight Domestic Terrorism - State Rep. Dana Wachs - Feb 16th, 2018
- GOP Chair of State Assembly Committee on Education, School Principal Shares Article Romanticizing Guns in Schools in Aftermath of Florida Mass School Shooting - One Wisconsin Now - Feb 16th, 2018
- Data Wonk: The More Guns, Less Crime Scam - Bruce Thompson - Oct 18th, 2017
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