Nick

Nick was unexpectedly called to his heavenly home on November 27, 2020. He was shot in St. Francisville, Louisiana, by a 19-year-old man. Nick was headed to college and projected to graduate in May 2021. He loved basketball and playing drums and was active in church as the drummer. He was a kid whose future was bright, and he was ready to experience college life. Although he was an only child, he was a very giving person, always ready to teach his cousins. He is missed terribly.

Gavin’s Mom

My son’s name is Gavin. Not was, but still is: Gavin. And I am his voice now. Gavin only got to be five years old for 12 short days. Ten years ago, one day after Thanksgiving, my son got hold of his daddy’s duty weapon. He shot himself in the face and passed away.

We as parents must keep these guns out of the reach of our children. I assumed I had the safest house, living with a police officer. But with the gun being locked, cocked and ready to rock, it took my son’s life in a matter of seconds. I mourn my child every day and now am fighting almost 19 months for a change in how we keep weapons. But it is a fight I cannot do alone. It’s too late for my child. But not for yours. Please think about it.

Cadet Aurora McCarter

She wanted to make a real change. She was at Purcell Marian High School, in her junior year. A police cadet, working full-time at McDonalds. She was very determined and focused on ultimately being a FBI Agent. She had a savior complex: She felt as if she could help those whom people and society would write off. She always stood for what was right and desired to make a serious change in our system.

However, in Cincinnati, on August 14, 2020, my Aurora was murdered. A 16-year-old boy bought an illegal gun from an adult man. The 16 year old decided to rob the man, and shots were fired. My Aurora was shot, one single time—gone. Everything she wanted to be, and it’s like this: Just gone? No!

The 16 year old is charged! Aurora, 17 years old, murdered—the equation doesn’t add up. I dread awakening every day without her. Life doesn’t seem real, isn’t real! She had everything, and she was everything I ever wanted to be. I, as her mom, put everything I had into molding her, and I just can’t believe I’m here in this world without my beautiful Aurora. Say her name: “Cadet Aurora McCarter.”

Aunt Cheri

My niece was murdered by gun violence when she was 18 years old in Colorado, along with her 16-year-old boyfriend. Both lives were taken too soon.

Anonymous

Three families, linked together by our sons. From grade school into college we enjoyed times together – Packer games, weekends at the Wisconsin Dells, New Year’s Eve parties.

It was an exciting time for our three boys. They all went away to college. It was spring, with freshman finals coming up; they were planning their first summer since being independent at school.

It was all shattered in an instant. Brandon, the younger brother of my son’s friend, who had always been a part of their guy group, died by gun suicide. How could this be? His family had always been involved with hunting and focused on safety. They practiced safe gun storage. Yes, Brandon had a history of attempting suicide and was getting help; those other attempts failed. The gun did not fail.

Two months before he would turn 17 – his life ended. The friendships of our families severed.

This year he would have been 21 years old. We celebrate Brandon. Beautiful, silly and happy. His mom would say he was her buddy – her Mini-Me. He was outgoing, funny, caring, big-hearted and loving. He always had lots of energy and nonstop talking.

Gone too soon.

(Brandon is 3rd from the left.)

Sami

For years I babysat for some neighbors, two boys and a girl who lived a few houses down. I grew close to the family, especially the daughter, who loved that I have thick, curly hair just like hers. Of course, the kids grew up and didn’t require watching, but we kept in touch. When the girl became a teenager, I was preoccupied with my first full-time job and college. We didn’t speak as often; I didn’t know she was struggling.

When she was 13 and home alone on November 30, she took her own life with one of her parents’ guns. My high-school sweetheart told me the news after my shift. I battled depression for over a year afterwards, wishing I had been a better, stronger teenage role model when I babysat her and that I had been there for her when she needed help. The holidays are always hard now. I had my first child this year; I’m hoping that making the holidays special for her will help distract me more than when I’d try to do holiday things on the weekend with my nephews, in previous years.

Latrice Murray

I lost my 17-year-old son, Darreon Murray, in a drive-by shooting after his last basketball game, 11 days before his 18th birthday. He was due to graduate and go off to college. Instead we were planning a funeral. On March 7, 2009, at 1:15 a.m., my life changed forever. My son become the 21st homicide of 2009. It will be 11 years this March, and my son’s homicide is still unsolved.

My son Johnathan

I was married to a man who controlled me, who terrified me. One of his favorites was to either threaten me by hitting me or aiming at me as if he were going to shoot me. He fooled me and the courts and got custody of my son. My final straw was a very severe beating, along with the threat of, “If you ever try to take him, I will kill you, and if I can’t find you, I’ll start with your sister and her three boys.” One more way to control me.

I believed him. I never imagined he would hurt my son.

In June 1983, I received a call where I couldn’t figure out who this person was. Finally she blurted out, “He killed them, he shot and killed the baby [my son] and my mother. They found the bodies on May 11, the day after Mothers Day, he committed suicide by gun!” Without names I knew who she was referring to. My son was four and a half years old. Now I fight gun violence! #Memoriesthatsurvive

Lashianna Vann

As I was folding clothes, devastating news hit me. My 15-year-old son, Telven, had been shot in the head at a basketball game. My nervousness caused my knees to weaken as my heart dropped in my stomach. After craniotomy surgery, he went into a coma. Doctors said that if he survived, his possibilities of remembering, talking or walking were low. We needed a miracle.

The hospital treatment was overwhelming. He fought for his life, and I prayed for the faith. With the prayers of the righteous and extensive rehabilitations, he beat the odds. His life was spared. He did things doctors said he wouldn’t do. We have to believe in God’s report because men say no, but God said yes.

Telven and everyone else had to get used to his new normal. It changed his life drastically. Some sports he can no longer do, and he walks with a limp, but we thank God he’s still here. My heart truly goes out to families who have dealt with gun violence. I pray for justice to all families who have lost loved ones. Guns are not the answer, so I stand against gun violence.

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.