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Gwendolyn La Croix

In honor of Jonah Payne

On October 19th, 2016, a month after Jonah’s 17th birthday, my beautiful honors student and big brother of three found an unsecured gun in a closet and shot himself in the head, in our new home’s hallway.  Jonah was 6’2”, loved basketball and drawing, gave the biggest hugs, and participated in church youth group and an early college program.  He also suffered from suicidal thoughts since he was eight. I begged his father, my then-husband, to lock up his weapons, providing articles and statistics about risks and even buying two lock boxes to safely store them. Jonah knew that his father had lied when he promised me they were secured.  After Jonah killed himself, his father was not held accountable.

I became a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner after watching my son struggle with mental health.  I speak to suicidal individuals daily, and I don’t want another person to find their loved one as I did. It’s so important to protect the vulnerable!  Teenagers are impulsive and developmentally unable to envision their futures beyond their immediate self. I want every other teenager to know there are other options. Your lives matter!

I got involved with Moms after Jonah died. Guns should be locked and stored separately from ammunition, and people who allow minors to gain access to their weapons and perpetrate crimes should be prosecuted.  I am angry, but I know change is possible.  Today I fight for Red Flag Laws and am hopeful when laws like “Ethan’s Law” are passed. I am filled with hope when I encounter those who pledge to be gun sense voters and every time I picture a world where people are comfortable to speak to anyone about gun safety.

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