Michelle Barnes-Anderson (Mommy) and Melquain

What do you do when you fight to ensure your child is a respectable, productive individual who is loved and gives love, but he is murdered anyway? You fight some more.

Melquain was my only child. I carried him for nine months and raised him 27 years and four days. He was an intelligent, charismatic, empathetic, witty young man. He used to help others to pass the exam for a GED.

Yet he was still murdered at a bus stop. I forgot to teach him that pain and hurt lives in many others’ hearts, which will make their hearts black and despise you, even if they don’t know you.

Now I’m left to wake up in a home to the air and wind. I have to help raise his daughter, who was born one and a half months after his murder. In order to survive, I have to give back in his name. I established the Melquain Jatelle Anderson Foundation: Fighting Against Gun Violence Via Education, and I implemented scholarships and emergency funds at the college where he earned his associate degree and the college he was attending at his demise. I try to help survivors and save others from being murdered or imprisoned due to gun violence.

Jasmine

I’ll never forget the day my mother sat me down and told me that my cousin had died. I remember feeling my stomach drop at the news that my cousin, a beautiful mother of two kids, was dead.

When my mother told me how she died, I was appalled, angered and overcome with emotion. That was the day that gun violence personally impacted me. Jasmine became a victim of intimate partner gun violence. It is in remembrance and honor of Jasmine’s life and the lives of others lost to gun violence that I turned my anger and grief into activism.

Celeste Iroha

My first experience with gun violence was when I was about 12 to 14 years old. My cousin was shot and killed in Washington, D.C., after trying to leave a gang he had joined and see about having a better life. When he had gotten his life back on track, they shot and killed him anyway for trying to leave. I had to attend his funeral with my family and see my family’s pain, as he was my cousin. They haven’t found his killer even to this day, even though his father is a lawyer. I never wanted to experience that pain ever again, but only more came along the way.

A high school friend I graduated with in 2014 was murdered on his front doorstep during his 21st birthday weekend. No one was caught, and his name vanished from the news of his death.

I have lost multiple people, both loved ones and friends, but I have been advocating for change in this country within this worldwide epidemic known as gun violence.

Brianna

I remember clearly the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting: a 20 year old gunned down 20 children and 7 teachers. My initial thought was that I have no idea what I would do in that situation…. That couldn’t possibly happen to me.

Just a year later, on December 13, 2013, a student came into my school with a shotgun, seeking revenge on one of the most loved teachers. The campus guards did nothing to stop it. That led to the shooting of a fellow student, who passed away a week later.

The shooter legally bought a pump-action shotgun and large amounts of ammunition at local stores. Colorado law states that an 18 year old can buy a shotgun but not a handgun.

I will not be another statistic, and neither should any of you. Not one more. Enough is enough.

Anonymous

My grandparents raised me from the time I was five. Six years ago, I had just graduated and was about to start my freshman year. I walked outside to get something out of my car and saw my grandfather shoot himself. It didn’t kill him immediately, but he fell down and just kept saying, “Just let me die.” He died an hour later. He never left a note; we never knew a reason.

I ended up dropping out of school before I even started and staying home to help my grandmother raise my sisters. It’s taken years to feel peace. Even in the last few months, I’ve been finding more signs in the months leading to his death. I can’t help but continue to feel guilt in thinking that I could have changed the outcome, had I known the signs.

This last year, I’ve had this unrelenting feeling that there is a reason I’ve gone through the pain I have, and I want to find a way to help others overcome their trials. To know that it gets better. I want to help people get through the tough times and be a change.

rell

Hello all. I tell my story because it is a part of my life. I live with it for the rest of my life. My son’s life matters. All lives matter. When his life was taken, mine was taken as well. Being a mother of four and to lose your baby is the worst nightmare; I am still in a fog.

I want the guns out of the wrong folks’ hands, which take away lives that matter. How do we stop this? Each and every day I am reminded of my child. What would his life have been today?

Life After Death is a support group here in the city of Brockton for people who have lost their loved ones to guns without purpose. However, guns do not kill, people do.

I will keep my son’s legacy alive. This is why I brought forth this wonderful support group: a safe place to cry, laugh. Scream. Eat. Cry more, smile and learn how to grieve. And no, it’s not OK…

Olga Williams “Bonus Mom to Dom”

On July 19, 2015, Dominique was murdered by a senseless act of gun violence.

Dominique had a smile that was contagious. His heart was overwhelmed with joy, and he was faithful to his beliefs. Dominique’s love for his family and friends was immeasurable. He absolutely loved his family and knew what love was. That is why I #DoitforDom. Being his “Bonus Mom,” or “Momma Lo,” was a joy. Dominique was sure to have you laughing or playing video games or teaching you to take the perfect selfie. He was the best big brother that his baby sister Lindsay could have asked for, and I am so thankful that God allowed them to create a bond that Lindsay can cherish forever. His “Pops”—the name he called his daddy, Leroy—has lost a piece of his heart, and that is another reason why I will and cannot stop telling Dominique’s story.

Dominique’s life wasn’t short, but it was long and filled with love, kindness, and a light that will forever shine. This tragedy has turned pain into purpose! Dominique’s life mattered… and I am honored to be a Survivor Fellow.

Charles W. Reid (Chuck)

When I loss my firstborn and only son to gun violence, it broke my heart, but thanks to my faith in God and the support of Moms Demand Action, it didn’t break me! I have joined the fight to end gun violence in our communities.

This was my first year attending Gun Sense University, and I’m so excited! I learned so much about gun violence, and I am now equipped with my Gun Violence Toolkit, to do the work! I look forward to using these tools to help other families through the Charles W. Reid Community Help Center in honor of my son Chuck. I can honestly say to others “I am not alone.”

Anonymous

I’ll never forget that Sunday afternoon over two years ago. I had stopped at the store to get some coffee on my way to work, and I happened to look at my phone. On it was a GroupMe message from one of my college classmates to the rest of the class, saying that one of our classmates was no longer with us: she was a victim of the Waffle House shooting the night before.

I sat in my car, in shock, for a while. How could this have happened? It did not compute. Just three days earlier, I was standing with DeEbony and two other classmates, giving a presentation to the rest of the class. DeEbony was full of life and energy, and her passion for social justice issues animated my social work cohort. We finished that semester and the following school year subdued by the loss of an integral part of our group, but we were determined to pull together to support each other and honor her memory. For this reason, I fight for a future in which no one loses someone to needless gun violence.

Cedric Horatio Frison

There are a number of experiences that I have had related to gun violence. Growing up on the west side of Chicago, I have lost many of my peers to gun violence, on both sides of the fence. I have peers who have passed away as a result of gun violence, and I have peers who were arrested for murder, and who are still incarcerated 20-plus years later.

Today I work as an outreach specialist; my primary purpose is violence prevention. I work with young men between the ages of 18 and 30 years, who are considered at the highest-risk for being a victim of a violent crime or committing a violent crime. I received news two days ago that a young participant who was on my caseload, with whom I worked very closely, was murdered. I myself walk around with a bullet in my body from 1993 as a result of the gang culture that I was a part of. Today not only am I part of the fight against gun violence, I am also a substance-abuse recovery coach and outreach coordinator for NAEFI (National Alliance for the Empowerment of the Formally Incarcerated).