March 2019 Newsletter

GRANDPARENTS AGAINST GUN VIOLENCE

MARCH 2019 NEWSLETTER

Warning Needed: Guns Can Be Dangerous!

Monday, March 25
4:00 – 5:45 pm
Colonial Church in Prairie Village
(lower level, east side at back)
7039 Mission Road

We’ve all seen them: labels warning us about impending danger. Cigarette packages carry warnings about the health risks of smoking. Over-the-counter medicines warn us to follow instructions or risk dangerous results. Electric appliances warn us about possible shock or electrocution if used improperly and practically any product that arrives in a plastic bag warns of potential suffocation.

Yet when it comes to the sale and presence of firearms, we seldom see any warning of danger or even a reminder to keep firearms stored safely to avoid life-threatening consequences.

Change, however, may be coming. Last November, the Board of Health in King County, Washington, unanimously passed regulations requiring gun stores and firing ranges to post cautionary signage about the danger of firearms. The signage reads “WARNING: the presence of a firearm in the home significantly increases the risk of homicide, suicide, death during domestic violence disputes, unintentional deaths to children, household members and others.” The requirement covers the 39 cities in King County including Seattle, the state’s largest city and the King County seat.

That measure prompted members of our Advocacy Project to investigate what signage, if any, is currently posted at gun shops, sporting good stores and firing ranges in the metro area. They will have reviewed 26 sites and will report their findings at the March meeting. You’ll be surprised what they discovered. Join us!

ADVOCACY CORNER

At our February 25 meeting we heard from three local and experienced advocates who shared their advocacy experiences. Al Frisby of JoCo MoveOn, Leslie Mark of Indivisible KC and Joy Koesten, communications professional and former Kansas State Representative, each gave us valuable insights into their advocacy methods. Among their recommendations:

  • When advocating in person or by mail, know the name/number of the bill and its sponsor(s).
  • Know specifically whom to approach to get maximum results.
  • Have a specific goal you want to achieve whether it’s support for a bill, increased funding, etc.
  • Personal notes in your own words and phone calls work best.
  • Always be kind, courteous, respectful and appreciative of others’ time.

One of our attendees spoke about the Five Calls app. Calling is considered an easy and effective way for citizens to make an impact in national and local politics – consider signing up for the app.

Read the meeting minutes and find speaker contact information.

Joy Koesten, Al Frisby and Leslie Mark discuss their advocacy advice.

Following the panel discussion, we reviewed proposed legislation filed in both Kansas and Missouri regarding background checks and Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPO), also known as Red Flag Laws. Read overviews of these bills. Attendees then wrote postcards to their state representatives and senators urging support of these bills. We also encouraged everyone to send a postcard to the bills’ sponsors, thanking them for taking the lead with their colleagues. Postcards were provided by TOMS, the shoe company whose owner has launched a $ has launched a $5 million campaign to end gun violence by actively promoting legislation to increase background checks.

If you were unable attend the meeting and want to send a postcard, letter or email, find contact information here.

A New GAGV Meeting Tradition

Because of our success in December collecting items for the Samuel Rodgers Health Center of Kansas City and its Toys for Tots and Teens program, we’ve decided to help fulfill the needs of one nonprofit organization each quarter.

This quarter’s recipient is the Front Porch Alliance, a local organization that supports neighbors who live nearby, with a focus on Kansas City’s east side and surrounding neighborhoods. FPA intends to change and improve lives through their work.

Neighborhood Families is a signature program of FPA providing personalized training for more effective parenting. Personalized home visits are conducted by a certified parent educator with the latest child development information for families with children from birth to kindergarten. Playgroups provide opportunity for families to share experiences, play and socialize together. Screenings of children’s educational and sensory (vision and hearing) development ensure they have the skills they need. 

GAGV and FPA collaborated on the Juneteenth celebration last year and most recently with a LIFL event at their Community Baby Shower.

Their needs include baby formula, diapers and wipes, toys, children’s socks and underwear, toddler toothbrushes and toothpaste. See a complete list on their website. 

We encourage everyone who attends the March 25 meeting to bring a donated item. Thank you!

Mark Your Calendars

Thursday March 7: Prepped and Ready

6:30 to 8:30 pm
Johnson County Arts and Heritage Center
81st & Metcalf, Overland Park

Presentation by Dr. Shalya Sullivant, adolescent psychiatrist at Children’s Mercy Hospital Kansas City, to the Johnson County Suicide Prevention Coalition. See the flyer for more details. Lock It For Love will have a table at the event.

Monday April 22: GAGV Monthly Meeting

4:00 – 5:45 pm
Colonial Church
71st & Mission Road, Prairie Village

John Ham, Public Information Officer, KC office of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Program details to follow.

Monday October 14: Our Sixth Annual Community Forum

9 am – 2 pm
KU Edwards Campus
126th & Quivira Road, Overland Park

Presented by Heartland Coalition Against Gun Violence, a program of Grandparents Against Gun Violence. Check our monthly newsletters for details as they’re confirmed.

NOTE: Although the local February 16 vigil in memory of the Parkland, FL, shooting victims was cancelled due to weather, go to GAGV’s Facebook page to watch a video of the event prepared by Students Demand Action KC.

Legislation News You Can Use 

The most encouraging news we have had in many years: The House approves the first major gun control bill in almost 25 years. Another bill, to close the 72-hour loophole by extending the review period for background checks from three to 10 days, will also be voted on in the House and expected to pass.

Both bills face dim prospects in the Republican-controlled Senate and veto threats from President Donald Trump, who said they would impose unreasonable requirements on gun owners.

House approves first major gun control bill in almost 25 years

In spite of the Senate roadblock describe above, per the newsletter from the Giffords Law Center, movement is evident on two gun regulation proposals GAGV is actively supporting through its Advocacy Project: Universal Background Checks and Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPO), also known as Red Flag Laws.

Gun Law Trend Watch

Also gaining attention is closing the 72-hour loophole in background checks. The loophole allows a business to sell a gun after 72 hours if the FBI hasn’t completed a customer’s background check before then confirming the sale is legal. The practice allowed more than 2,500 prohibited purchasers to buy a gun in 2014, according to FBI statistics.

SC Rep. Jim Clyburn says bill closing ‘Charleston loophole’ will pass the House

However, there’s still plenty of activity among gun-rights proponents. Nine state legislatures are considering bills to eliminate permit and training requirements to carry concealed guns, and 26 states have pending measures allowing people to carry guns in schools.

In Missouri, two bills have been filed in the House and one in the Senate “to allow the concealed carry of firearms on public transportation systems and the transporting of nonfunctioning or unloaded firearms on public busses.” The House bill is moving through the process with alarming speed while many “good bills” have made no progress at all, and likely will not.

And finally, this reprehensible article and threatening tone concerning U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019:

Pelosi’s daughter slams NRA over ‘target practice’ article

HOLLYWOOD & GAGV! Congratulations to Kevin Willmott, KU professor of film and media studies who spoke at our August 2018 meeting, on winning his first Academy Award.

Prof. Willmott was part of the four-man writing team that won this year’s Oscar for best adapted screenplay for BlacKkKlansman. The film tells the true story of an African-American policeman who infiltrates the Ku Klux Klan in the 1970’s. Prof. Willmott, who grew up in Junction City, KS, wears a bullet-proof vest while teaching his KU classes to protest the state law allowing guns on campus.

Sixth Annual Community Forum Takes Shape

One of our most prominent goals for 2019 is to produce another signature Community Forum addressing gun violence. We’re well on our way!

We’ve chosen a new and user-friendly venue: the KU Edwards Campus at 126th and Quivira Road in Overland Park. The meeting space has ample and convenient parking, excellent handicap accessibility, high-tech capabilities and a staff eager to work with us in every way.

We’ve also engaged not one, but two keynote speakers who share a story forged in tragedy and yet infused with hope. Both of San Diego, Azim Khamisa and Ples Felix came together after Azim’s only son, a 20-year-old student and aspiring photographer, was shot and killed by Ples’ 14-year-old grandson in a gang initiation gone horribly wrong. Their story of how shared grief was overcome with hope and forgiveness is an inspiration spanning 24 years. You can read about Azim and Ples in this article: Why This Man Befriended His Son’s Murderer And His Family. Once you read it you’ll want to hear more from them!

Following their shared story, we’ll hear other inspiring stories from a variety of people who have experienced gun violence in personal or professional ways. Among them: victims themselves, families who have lost loved ones, survivors who have started organizations to prevent similar tragedies, medical professionals, first responders, educators and clergy  all who give comfort and hope to those caught in the web of gun violence.

The Forum’s format will again be organized around a panel of experts, informative breakout sessions, time for questions and lunch, the development of action steps and a send-off to inspire us as we continue working to keep children safe from gun violence at home, in school and in our community.

As before, we need your help to ensure a successful event. Learn more about the many volunteer opportunities available by emailing us. Please indicate: Attention, Joan Jacobson.