Christina Down-Robinson

June 1, 1993, is the date my world stopped turning and I took on the unwanted title of homicide survivor. This is the date my Irish twin brother, Scott, was shot and killed during an attempted armed robbery.

Scott and I were a team. We shared a car and got each other to and from school and several part-time jobs. We were study partners — always pushing each other to succeed — and he was my very first friend. He had a quick wit and an incredible sense of humor, a deliberate and infectious enthusiasm for life, and at 19 years old, a promising future.

The one bullet (from a handgun that was unlicensed, unregistered and remains unaccounted for) that killed my brother left an enormous hole in me and everyone that knew and loved Scott. He has been missed every minute of every day for over 26 years.

Ironically, February 4 is Scott’s birthday, and for the next two weeks we should be teasing each other as we’d once again, albeit temporarily, be the same age. Instead, I’m writing about his birthday as the #MomentsThatSurvive, during National Gun Violence Survivors Week, to share how gun violence has changed my life.

Kala Klein

On May 1, 2017, my brother Kobi was on his way up to his apartment in Indianapolis, with his Roller Derby practice bag and his groceries, when he was stopped in the parking lot by someone with a gun. He then dropped his bags and tried to run away. He was shot several times in the back and did not survive. The next afternoon, his bags were found on the sidewalk in front of his building, and his body was found behind his apartment building. His case is still unsolved.

Losing my brother and best friend has been absolutely devastating. It’s been almost three years, and we are still trying to piece our lives back together and figure out how to navigate through our grief.

Kobi, we love and miss you more than words could ever describe. #justiceforKobi

Nathalie Arzu

Jose Webster became my little brother on September 5, 1995. We were similar in so many ways. He had a smile that would light up the room. He was very protective of his siblings. On September 15, 2011, only 10 days after his 16th birthday, he walked out the door and never came back home. He asked our mother to walk his girlfriend home. It was only seven blocks away. My mother told him to hurry back home. Three blocks away from our home, two men approached Jose and shot him 15 times. At that moment, the lives attached to his would never be the same. Two people took my brother away from his family and friends.

He will not be forgotten, and I will honor him with action. I will share his story to help people understand the impact of gun violence.

#momentsthatsurvive

Sandy Brown Glass

Last year marked my 40th year as a victim of gun violence. On March 15, 1978, a policeman came to the door of my family’s home with news that my 20-year old brother had been murdered in Broward County, Florida, while on spring break from George Washington University. Gun violence changes everything for a family. I was nearly 18 years old when I flew with my father to Florida to identify the body of my brother Albert. I remember the depth of my mother’s grief and how my younger brother lost his role model and childhood, as we were all victims of gun violence. I lost my older brother and confidant. Everything changed for my family.

The grief and loss in a family affected by senseless gun violence doesn’t end. Parents aren’t the same after losing a son or daughter. The loss, for siblings, doesn’t go away. Although Albert lived by my father’s sage philosophy of “live while you’re living,” his life story was cut short at 20 years old. I miss the pages we didn’t get to experience with him, all that he might have accomplished with his life, and how his presence would have enhanced mine and others.

I have a letter written to my family by Walter Mondale, then Vice President. He shared his deep sympathy and also a “determination to take action to minimize the chances of similar tragedies in the future.” Like other victims of gun violence, I continue to care deeply about preventing gun violence and am not giving up because this is too important.

My heart breaks for other victims of gun violence, and sadly, 40 years later, not enough has been done. Thoughts and prayers are not enough. We need you to support sensible gun legislation that will help protect our families.

Paula

My beautiful 25-year-old sister Debby used a handgun to end her life in 1971. I was 19 at the time. The gun belonged to her husband of only seven months, who needed it for his second job as a security guard. I believe he should have chosen to store the gun at his workplace rather than at home because Debby did not want the gun in the house and refused his attempts to teach her how to use it. We do not understand why she shot herself. This devastating loss almost destroyed my father’s mental health, and even today I consider the worst experience of my life. No one should have to go through this experience. Guns should have fingerprint technology, which has been developed, so that they cannot be used by just anyone who picks them up.

Livia Santiago

It all began in May 2017. I returned home to Puerto Rico after a 13-year absence. My baby brother received me with tears of joy. On Mother’s Day, he and his wife surprised me early in the morning. Fast forward to July 10, 2017: I was at work and for some reason couldn’t shake thoughts of my brother swirling in my head. Later that day I got the news. Someone shot my brother over a misunderstanding. Within minutes, a video of his death went viral, disgusting comments left by ignorant people who get joy from making others seem less than. My brother, a father of three, separated from his wife, and he maintained custody of his children until that fateful afternoon.

A few months later, Hurricane Maria ravaged the island. That’s when it really hit me. He’s not around to stand on lines to get gas or ice for mom. It took me 15 days to contact my mom. My nieces and nephew buried in a system bound in red tape. My entire family dynamic changed. I lost a brother to cancer 10 months prior. Yet the pain felt from my baby brother’s life just abruptly taken. A dad taken from his children, whom he did everything for. He was a barber by trade and learned how to cut and style women’s hair to help his daughters.

How does someone play God? How does someone really feel that empowered, as to decide a person should no longer live?