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).

Nancy A. Sullivan

On June 4, 2013, my mom, Nancy Sullivan, was murdered by her ex-boyfriend in Shoreview, Minneapolis. My mom, my best friend, died of multiple gunshot wounds in front of me. Before he turned the gun on himself and died by suicide, her ex-boyfriend first shot me and my daughter’s dad several times as well.

Fortunately, my daughter did not lose either of her parents that day; however, she lost her grandma, whom she loved dearly, and she has been scarred for life by what took place. No, my daughter was not present when the shooting happened, but that did not stop the ripple effects of devastation from reaching her. It reaches many and does not discriminate. Years later we live the PTSD brought on by guns.

This was the second incident in which I was shot. In 2008, less than a month after giving birth to my daughter, I was shot in a drive-by shooting in south Minneapolis. We have lost other loved ones to gun violence as well, and the impact has been immense. Gun violence has to end. It can end. We are responsible for everyone’s safety.

Dr. Lorenzo Neal

In the summer of 1980, when I was 5, my 25-year-old mother, Sharon Neal, was killed in an act of domestic violence that involved a gun in my hometown of Monroe, Louisiana. She left behind her four young boys (my brothers — Kevin, Emanuel and Joshua — and me) to be raised by her parents. Kevin would go on to join the U.S. Navy, marry and have a son of his own, Kevin Jr., lovingly known as “Make Mae.” Lil Kevin had a great big smile and an even bigger personality. He was in the JROTC at his school and worked part time. On October 19, 2016, at the age of 18 and in his senior year of high school, Kevin was taken from us in a senseless act of gun violence in Newport News, Virginia. They both live in my heart, and I will work to keep their memories alive.

Kathi Aker

One of my nephews, 24, my beloved only sister, 49, and one of my precious brothers, 64, all killed themselves using guns.

My family had reason to believe that my nephew, Cord, was perhaps experiencing the emergence of schizophrenia due to things he said to his girlfriend and people at work before his death.

My sister, Lisa, was diagnosed with bipolar depression in her late teens and battled her demons all her life, with intermittent intervention from professionals and treatment with medication. Her HMO had just changed her meds, due to cost concerns, before her death.

My brother, Franz, had been forced out of a lifetime of service in the U.S. Navy after 19 years, saving the government pension costs. He was being treated for Seasonal Affective Disorder, but, we learned after his death, he had stopped taking his medication.

I have been suicidal and self-harming and am currently in prolonged remission from severe depression due to strong medical support and proper medication. I believe if I’d had access to a gun, I might not be here.

Cherela

In 1988, my grandfather shot and killed himself at age 65. He worked in law enforcement and used his own gun. He was a loving, funny and intelligent man who adored his two daughters and his grandchildren.

Afterwards, my grandmother gave the gun to my stepfather, who was supposed to dispose of it…. He didn’t. We didn’t know that Mom had access to it, and she killed herself with the same gun in 2001. She’d always been close to her father.

I know the anger and grief and embarrassment of having a loved one kill themselves. I also know depression and suicidal thoughts all too well … but I have promised myself that I will never give in to those thoughts, for my son’s sake.

I have told my son all about our family history of depression and let him know that medication and therapy do work.

I support red flag laws.

Life is worth living.

Rick J.

Since I got out of the Army in 1987, I have lost family members to gun violence. First were my step-grandparents, who were murdered in their home during a robbery. A few years later, our family lost a female cousin due to murder. And lastly, I lost my twin brother to either suicide by a handgun or murder. Never believed a lot of the details surrounding his death. I am very tired and distraught by this nonstop violence with guns or any other means. We have an ugly culture in this country where life is not valued, laws are not respected, punishment for crimes is not strict enough or followed through. A sick culture needs healing and correction. We don’t have a gun problem, we have a culture problem. Until the culture is fixed, unfortunately, gun violence will persist and many more will die. And families will suffer.

Anonymous

I’m a Southern woman who grew up with hunting guns. They are tools of killing and are to be treated with caution. I’m also someone who…

1. had a coworker point a loaded pistol at me in jest – a joke I didn’t find funny;

2. lived in the dorm (albeit years before) at Virginia Tech where the first murders happened;

3. sat beside a friend and held her hand as she cried for her dead 9-year-old son, killed by the stupidity of an adult who couldn’t be bothered to store a handgun properly;

4. stood beside the coffin of said 9 year old and tried to comfort his grandparents (also friends);

5. found out that there was a shooting in the high school my children attended, and was able to send them back the next day, the day after that, and so on.

We don’t let people operate a 2,000-pound car that has the potential to kill and maim without demonstration of competence and insurance. Why let people have tools designed to kill without the same minimum requirements? That is what a gun is — a tool to kill.

Rhonda Denise Cureton

I lived in an abusive relationship with my two youngest daughters’ father for 14 years. He was very controlling. I was afraid to leave. He drank a lot, and things were really bad when he did drink. In March 2016, I finally got tired. I told him I was going to take my three daughters and leave because no one deserved to live in hell and suffer the way we did every day. On March 12, 2016, he had been drinking, and he started fussing. I didn’t like talking to him when he was drinking. I was walking off to go into the house when he pulled out a revolver and told me I was going to die. He pulled the trigger and fired. The first shot scraped my ear and the second shot hit me in the head (it was a deep flesh wound, and I only ended up getting staples). But he was in a rage and he tried to shoot his own daughters. He shot and killed my 17-year-old daughter (not his daughter). She died protecting us. He also shot a good Samaritan who had stopped to help us. He then killed himself.

Terry Walker-Smith

Christopher Lynn Mcbath was my second son to be murdered, gunned down September 15, 2009.
As a parent, you never think of losing a child and having a child taken by senseless violence. My first son, Djuansay Dee Freeman, was stabbed on October 13, 2007. I knew after the death of my second son, I had to do something. I couldn’t save my sons’ lives, nor did I want another child to be murdered or mother to have to endure the pain. I became a volunteer and a voice for the voiceless with Moms Demand Action, and an Everytown Survivor, so that one might live.

Bob

When I was 18, I got a summer job working on a surveying crew. The site was out in the middle of nowhere, so we would leave from the head office Monday mornings, stay in cabins during the week, and return Friday evenings. One Monday morning, our crew chief didn’t show up at the head office with the company van, so an older crew member and I were told to drive to his house. When we arrived, we found the van parked out front with the door open; there was an empty vodka bottle in the front. The other crew member told me to go wake up the chief. I walked up to the front and peered into the screen door. Our crew chief was sitting slumped over in the living room, dead. He had shot himself in the head.

In the 20 years since, a friend and a work colleague have also both shot and killed themselves.