Kellie Ashley

My sister Coco was an angel on earth. Not the kind you picture from a movie or a book; no big white wings or halo accompanied her. Instead, she had long, beautiful dark hair, a tattoo of a bearded lady on her arm and a purse packed full of miscellaneous items ready to hand to others when they needed anything—and I mean anything. Her own kind of angel she was.

She didn’t know a stranger. To know her was to gain a wonderful friend. She was a giver, a lover, a fighter and a dreamer. She was an incredible sister to all three of her sisters she tragically left behind at the age of 35.

On the morning on May 16, my sister went for a walk in the park, where she was followed, shot in the head and killed by her ex-boyfriend.

Coco will be deeply missed forever.

Josh Price

I was eight years old when I experienced gun violence. One Friday night, my mom, my five-year-old sister and I had fallen asleep while watching TV. My mom’s boyfriend came home drunk and angry. He kicked in the bedroom door. He had a revolver in his hand. I jumped up to protect my mom and little sister. He put me in a headlock and held the gun to my right temple. I still remember how cold the barrel was. I bit and scratched his forearm, but he was too strong. My mom begged him to let me go. My sister was crying hysterically.

He told my mom, “I will kill your son.” He pointed the gun at my baby sister and said, “I will kill your daughter.” Then he put the gun to his chin and said, “Then I will kill myself… but I will let you live so that you’ll always have the memory of seeing your children die in front of you.” This went on for hours. After awhile, he gestured, and the gun flew out of his hand. My mom grabbed it and hid it in the closet, and we ran out of the house.

Zachary Daniel Mallory

When I was 17 years old, I met a guy on a dating app. We started having a really good conversation, and things turned out to be intimate. I knew I was gay at a very young age, and at this time, I had already gone through a lot of things like bullying and harassment because of my sexuality.

I finally came across someone who seemed like they understood me and was interested in me. One night, we were talking, and I told him a very dark secret of mine. He went on social media and told everyone my secret. I was furious. He asked if he could come meet me where I was staying, and I of course said yes.

When he arrived, I could tell that he was going to do something that would change my life. He forced me onto the bed, held a gun towards my forehead and told me that I would have to do what he told me to do. He assaulted me with his gun, and then he left. I never heard from him again.

Jennifer Langston

I am a survivor. I have been impacted by gun violence my entire life, but in 2006 and 2014, the gun violence found me in my home.

In 2006, two armed men broke into my house, held me hostage and injured my roommate by gun. I lost my sense of security in the world after this tragic incident, but I had no idea that I could lose even more from further gun violence.

In 2014, I again survived the unthinkable. My boyfriend, who was suffering from suicidal ideation, bought a gun without my knowledge. We had discussed not owning firearms because of his suicidal thoughts, but his struggle become too overwhelming. In the early hours of April 1, my boyfriend’s suicidal tendencies turned homicidal, and I became his target. He held me hostage and then shot me in the chest.

Gun violence is not something I get over; it is what I have learned to live with. The impact of gun violence is enormous, and I struggle every day to feel safe in a world plagued by gun violence. As a two-time survivor of gun violence, I share my story to bring awareness to the real impact of gun violence in our society.

Chris Breseman

On May 3, 2003, an ex-girlfriend and her two friends tried to murder me. They took 27 shots at me, hitting me once in my abdomen. It took 28 major life-saving surgeries to survive. In the first surgery, I died three times and took 17 pints of blood. I lost my career in the U.S. Air Force and am now a 100 percent disabled USAF Veteran with serious PTSD, depression and anxiety.

Auntie Rob’s

Survivors of gun violence intimately know that sharing one’s personal experience is a hard but necessary part of healing from trauma. I know this personally after losing my niece. She was senselessly murdered by someone she met two weeks prior on a dating site, who should not have had a gun or been on the streets.

I still find it hard to believe and am not so sure I can agree when people tell me that it “gets easier” or that “time heals all wounds or that “everything happens for a reason.” The pain and heartache that each one of my family members has had to—and still has to— endure continues to take my breath away. This horrible, tragic nightmare continues to be and will always be my family’s reality.

Fifty-eight percent of American adults or someone they care for have experienced gun violence in their lifetime. It could be any of us!

I will never stop fighting for you … I will continue to be your voice! I am absolutely heartbroken and filled with so many tears … this is so unfair!

Auntie Rob’s loves and misses you, Em’s.

Aunty Robs

In December 2018, my beautiful, kind and loving niece Emily was senselessly murdered by someone she’d met a few weeks prior, on a dating site. He should not have had a gun or been in the community. This was not his first crime.

I can’t find the words (because there are none) that could possibly describe how heartbroken I am. There’s a part of me that doesn’t know what to write because I don’t want to have to acknowledge that it’s actually real — that she is no longer with us. Another part can’t stop thinking about how much regret I have for not making more time for her when, now, it’s simply not possible…. I’ll forever regret the things I didn’t do when I had the chance.

One thing I won’t ever have regrets about is how hard we have worked and fought as a family to honor and demand justice for Emily. Something has to change, and we won’t stop until it does.

“Love your family. Spend time, be kind and serve one another. Make no room for regrets. Tomorrow is not promised, and today is short.”

I love and miss you more than words can tell, Ems.

Busy Bee

My late daughter’s father, my ex-husband, had learned from his father how to control and mentally abuse his victims. He appeared to be an upstanding member of the community. He had his own real-estate business, had previously been an Army officer, and had received the highest award at his university. He was very charming and intelligent, so it was easy for him to gaslight everyone. His reasons for the emotionally cruel things he did or didn’t do always sounded reasonable. And my daughter fell for it as well, then realized it after having endured trauma.

Tragically, she got involved with a guy about four years older who was also smart and manipulative. He eventually, after mind games and physically abusing her, convinced her to shoot herself. She died on Father’s Day morning at age 21. The police had been called on both her dad and the boyfriend. Other professionals, including Child Protective Services and a judge, had been warned throughout the years, but they would not listen to me. I don’t know how she got the gun. Her father, who had paid off others in the past, didn’t want to pursue justice, and the police did nothing.

Anonymous

On August 14, 2019, while I was home from college for the summer, I woke up to a text that changed my life forever. It was a news article link from my roommate, which stated that there had been a shooting at our college home. That morning I found out that my roommate Stephanie had been murdered by her ex-boyfriend, who also had lived with us. We learned that after she had broken up with him a few weeks before, he broke into our home and shot her multiple times. He then calmly turned himself in.

I am a 21-year-old college student who lost one of my closest friends to senseless gun violence. She had no chance of survival. Because he was able to so easily and legally obtain a gun and do this, our best friend is gone. I feel broken, numb, scared, anxious and unable to trust new people. I’ll never see my best friend again because someone who shouldn’t be able to buy a gun was easily able to do so. Stephanie was a leader, an amazing chef, a thoughtful friend, and a family-oriented person with a great sense of humor, and we miss her more each day.

Robin Irene Ortiz

On August 1, 2011, I received the call that would change my life forever. My beautiful daughter was murdered by her boyfriend. My baby girl left two children, ages six and two. They are now being raised by their father and stepmother. It’s been a journey that I never knew I would have ever taken. My heart is broken forever. She was celebrating her 26th birthday. My only comfort is that someday I’ll be reunited with her in heaven. 7/30/81-7/31/11.