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.