Tracie R. Garnett

Devin was intelligent, witty and full of life. Being his mother was an honor and a joy. Devin was in Delaware, starting his third year of college, when his life was cut short by senseless violence.

On September 27, 2020, Devin attended a party at a park. Shots were fired, and he was hit by a stray bullet. I received the call that changed my life forever: “Aunt Tracie, we were at a party, and Devin got shot.” We traveled to Delaware to be with him, but he died on September 28, 2020.

Devin was robbed of a bright future filled with love and happiness, and I was robbed of my opportunity to watch my child reach his full potential. Devin didn’t get to celebrate his 21st birthday; he will not graduate from college, find love, or raise a family.

I’m heartbroken, and it’s hard to believe he is really gone. I’m doing my best to carry on without him. I pray that Devin is smiling down on us from Heaven and that he knows he is loved forever and sorely missed.

No arrests have been made as of this post (June 2021).

Imario Ballard

My son Imario was shot and killed in a drive-by shooting on September 15, 2018, in the Back of the Yards neighborhood. Imario was standing in the street, leaning inside the car of his godbrother, when a car came down the street and someone shot him. Imario was the second oldest of nine. He was a fun-loving son, brother, father, uncle, friend and had just recently became a granddad in April. His hobby was working on cars.

My mind constantly takes me back to when I received the call saying he had been shot. I arrived at the hospital and was met by the chaplain (I didn’t know who she was until afterward). I was taken into a room with my other children, who had arrived before me. Next, doctors, nurses, security and detectives entered the room. The doctor sat by me and said, “When your son was brought in, he didn’t have a heartbeat or pulse. We opened him up to resuscitate him, but we were unsuccessful.” It felt like my heart stopped, as I was gasping for air. It was unbelievable that my son was no longer here.

My godson said his last words were, “Call my mama.”

His case is still unsolved.

Your Mom, Britta Brown Whitehead

On September 16, 2019, at 11:16 a.m., my life and the lives of my daughters, Layla and Nea, were forever changed. I received a call that no parent, or no mother, wants to receive. My son, Luis “Lou” Eduardo Zambrana Jr., 20, was murdered at an Exxon in Newport News, Virginia, while purchasing Gatorade.

Just one week earlier, Lou had walked me down the aisle to give me away at my wedding. That is the last time I hugged, kissed, held and smiled at my son.

The man who took my son’s life did not know him and had never met him. His actions rested on the word of someone’s opinion about Lou. We are still waiting for a trial.

At age 4, Lou found a love for drama and music in the church. At age 17, Lou was majoring in theater and drama at Norfolk State University. By April 2019, his talent and passion had emerged, and he was received awards for best actor in a musical and “most improved” actor. His life was taken five months later.

As I continue to try to heal, I made a promise to stand up and talk about gun violence awareness

Meredith Jade Keeton

My father, David, was an outdoorsman, gardener, inventor and avid NRA member and gun collector, having over 50 firearms at one point in his life. As he became physically disabled due to osteonecrosis and more dependent on mobility aids, he felt fearful about the need to protect himself and his family—especially after break-ins and robberies of his home.

I grew up surrounded by paranoia and hyper-vigilance about security, but also love. I learned gun safety from a very young age.

My father had a rocky relationship with the woman he married after my parents divorced, and she planned to leave to pursue another relationship. My father was killed by a gunshot wound to the head during an argument, deemed suicide by the Chilton, Texas, police department. His wife donated the majority of his belongings to Goodwill and left the state before his burial. Her new partner, present during the argument, was not formally questioned.

My father deserved another chapter in his life, and his family deserves to know what actually happened to cause his death. It is too easy to write off gun violence as someone else’s problem, to dismiss these lives, until it’s someone you love.

Leslie Davis

My story begins on June 27, 2013. I was in my car, taking my lunch break to go to a care meeting at the nursing home my mom is in. I realized I missed a call from my oldest son, Vince, and my husband. I called my son back, and he asked, “Have you talked to Dad?” He said, “Call him. Call Dad.”

My husband said, “You need to get here to the hospital.” Now he was crying, “They shot him; they shot AJ.”

Our 18-year-old son, AJ, was shot in a drive-by and died in his brother Vince’s arms as he arrived at his house.

Our lives were turned upside down that day. We lost both of our sons that day. Vince died 18 months later, in a car accident, but he was never the same after that day. Our middle and only living child, Brian, still struggles with PTSD, anger and fear.

AJ was an artist—kind, smart, funny and with a desire to help other young people that he often said were lost. We are pursuing ways to honor him by making his dream come true.

Joyce Clark

On September 27, 2020, my only son was gunned down after a party he had attended. He was shot numerous times and died on the street, alone. I don’t know who or why someone decided to end his life, but he or she took not only a son but also a brother and father. I don’t know whether we will ever get justice for this act of cowardice in my lifetime. I don’t think it will matter, either, because it won’t bring him back. I miss him so much and think of him daily, but I know he’s with God. That brings me peace.

David Cary Hart

My life is forever changed.

I was a hard-charging, successful CEO of a complex organization that included four nonprofit entities and one for-profit company. I had a 30-year relationship with my partner.

Today I could not work as a Walmart greeter due to acute PTSD. I am alone.

The difference between then and now is having been ambushed and shot point-blank in my back, at the direction of an employee, to put the brakes on an internal audit. She succeeded.

In the competition between a .45 caliber bullet and human tissue, the bullet always wins. Proof that two objects cannot exist in the same place at the same time.

Once a bullet enters a human body, it tends to rattle around until it runs out of inertia. In my case, my right hip was destroyed, requiring a total hip replacement.

I walk just fine. It’s my mental health that continues to get worse in spite of fairly continuous treatment and my consumption of medications.

My one suicide attempt resulted in a four-week stay in a psych ward. Before my partner died, I worked very hard at destroying our relationship.

No one has ever been brought to justice. Presumably my shooter was a prohibited carrier.

Laura Brown

My partner and the father of my children was gunned down and killed driving up Central Avenue in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on January 14, 2021. His name is Mark Solano, and he was 37 years old. Our children are 8 and 6 years old, and they are now left without a father. Their hearts, as well as mine, are broken. A senseless act that took a father, son, brother, uncle, nephew, cousin and friend. We love you Mark, forever and ever and ever. We will never let your memory fade. At this time, there is no one in custody.

Donna

My son Randy was shot and killed in 2017.

I remember the day I was first introduced to my son. God blessed me with a second husband and another son. I loved him from the moment we met. We became a beautiful blended family. Randy was so funny and full of life as a child. He wasn’t my biological son, but we had a mother-son bond that was unbreakable. I miss him every day. His two beautiful daughters look just like him, and I love my granddaughters so much. Their dad was senselessly murdered and taken away from them. Our son’s killer has not been arrested; that keeps me upset. I stay in prayer for my family and myself and turn it into power.

I also lost my first husband to gun violence, leaving me with four young children. He was shot in the head, coming from work. His killer was never brought to justice.

That’s why I volunteer as a Survivor with Moms Demand Action—to fight for peace, racial justice, inclusion and diversity. We fight for all survivors, to get guns off the street and end gun violence.

It’s critical to share your voice.

Audrey Boyd

Being from Louisville, Kentucky, I was never really sheltered from violence. It seemed as if every day, multiple times a day, the news was broadcasting another person being shot and killed. Never did I think I would be one of those people.

On March 16, 2016, my life would change forever. Around 11 or 11:30 p.m., while I was standing in my living room, talking with my boyfriend (who was on the couch), we heard what we thought were fireworks. As smoke filled the dark room, we realized what was happening. Two men had pulled up in front of our building and aimed to kill! There were bullets flying all around our front room, and as my boyfriend scurried across the floor, I was frozen with fear. As I came to, I felt this burning sensation in my left arm, but didn’t realize I had been shot! I was shot in my left arm and left breast with a 9mm bullet. To this day we don’t know why, or who they thought lived there, but I am grateful to be alive and tell my story. Police found 18 to 20 shell casings in the parking lot.