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.

Steven Anthony Harris

I’ll never forget getting the call on March 21, 1990, saying that my brother, my best friend, my partner in life, was gone. More importantly, I couldn’t believe what they were saying: He took his own life!

I had just spoken to him. He had just enlisted in the Marines, so it didn’t make sense. He was so happy and looking forward to it. I couldn’t accept suicide, so for years I looked for answers. Finally, on July 4, 2001, an article showed up in the Washington Post about the “Blue Wall of Silence”: death at the hands of an officer. There were 12 names, and the 12th name that appeared was my beloved brother, Steven Harris: Shot by the hands of an officer!

Shawanna Vaughn

Will you remember me? I will remember you, Albert L. Phillips Jr.

On December 24, 1986, someone made a decision that stopped time for those who loved you. I was in a pink robe when the police knocked on the door. It would be the moment you were never coming back. I figured our dad needed you more.

You became an angel to me. You were my brother, a larger-than-life hero. You would swing me until I thought I could touch the trees. Your children will carry on your name. I will never let the world forget you were here. I will remember you. Will you remember me? Your life will be remembered, Albert L. Phillips Jr.

Big Mike

I still grieve my big brother, Big Mike. He was a Golden Glove heavyweight champion and boxed for the U.S. Olympic boxing team. He was found on Medical Drive in Silver Spring, Maryland, shot several times in the back of his head and left on the street, dead.

This happened in 1983. I was in college and had to ride the Greyhound bus alone from Pittsburgh to Washington D.C. when I was notified. My big brother never got to see me graduate or meet any of his nephews or nieces.

I am crying now, because nobody was ever convicted for his death, and I still really miss him.


Annie Belcourt

Our little sister was funny, kind, strong, hopeful and an incredible person. She was a proud Native American woman (Blackfeet, Chippewa, Mandan and Hidatsan). She was always helping others and finding her way in the world after fleeing domestic violence.

She was spending time with friends when her life was taken by gun violence. Two men were provided access to guns illegally by the prison guard guarding the perpetrator who ended my sister’s life.

We miss her every single day. Twenty years is a long time to miss her. She has missed graduations, celebrations and the joys of a life denied her.

We carry her with us every day. We as her family try to honor her legacy of love, hope and peace. Her spirit lives within each of those who loved her.

In the Blackfeet language, we say “Ikakimaat” to our young people, and that means to try hard. We all need to try harder to love each other in ways that will heal our communities and spirits. One of our teachers of the Amskapi Pikuni language reminds us that we say “Kitssiikakomim” to let others know that we love them. We love. We heal. Together.

Barbara Jo

More than 30 years ago, my little sister Barbara Jo took her life with one of the two guns that she possessed. She suffered from drug addiction and mental illness. It remains a mystery as to how she got ahold of those guns. The situation is no better today. In fact, it’s far worse, as gun deaths in our country have increased immensely since 1988. We cannot bring Barbara back, but we must fight to get common-sense gun laws passed to help and save others.

Elizabeth Wanzer Klein

My big brother, Jim, was six feet four inches tall, kind, smart, funny and sometimes depressed. He was a father of two beautiful little girls, 2 and 9 years old. He was a husband and a son.

It has been 30 years since my brother died after shooting himself in the head in our family’s shop. I was holding our newborn son, Matthew, when I got the phone call from my mom. She had just found my brother … dead. I cried and screamed in disbelief. He left a wife and two beautiful daughters, a mother and three sisters, and numerous friends and relatives.

We are all changed. Sometimes it seems like a long time ago and sometimes it seems like yesterday, but it always seems preventable to me. My aunt and my cousin died from suicide by guns too.

We must come together with gun owners, the NRA and our legislators and do all in our power to establish a culture of gun safety and to advocate for sensible gun laws and better mental health care for all.


If somebody could embody “dynamic,” that’s who he was. Always smiling and laughing. He was a few years older—the same age as my brother—so our families were close. Like a best friend, a cousin, another brother. Both he and my brother came out as gay in middle school. In a small southern town, that wasn’t easy. But I never could have expected that February morning, when my mother picked me up from class and told me he had killed himself using a firearm. I was overcome by fear, sadness and one unfamiliar feeling.

A few weeks later, my brother made his own attempt on his life, and I pinpointed the feeling: It was anger. I was furious that they had tried to leave us behind; I was furious at both of their schools for not protecting them; I was furious that someone had sold a gun to an 18-year-old. I couldn’t blame them, though; it was perfectly legal.

This anger fueled my activism. Today I am fueled by my love for the other people working for good and by my desire to help other kids survive and find happiness like my brother has. I hope this fuels you, too.

David Byrd Posey

On February 5, 2021, I lost my big brother due to gun violence.

Tushar Atre

Tushar was my big brother and only sibling. He was killed in a planned home invasion. Tushar was so much more than how he died. He was an entrepreneur, surfer, mountain biker, guitarist, designer, builder, technologist, lover of nature, friend, brother, son, uncle, cousin. We miss him every second. He was taken from this world far too early. He had so much more to give and do.