Published 01/03/2020 | Reading Time 2 min 23 sec
By Anna King, contributing writer
In 2003, my beloved brother shot himself with a gun. He did not make it. His death took an immense toll on my mother, my family members and me. Gun violence has permanently altered my life.
I am one of 58% of Americans who have said they, or someone they care for, have experienced gun violence.
58% of American adults or someone they care for has experienced gun violence in their lifetime.
Unfortunately, I know that I’m not alone. Thousands of others have been shot and killed, have shot and killed themselves, and have been shot and wounded.
Each year, nearly 700 people are shot and killed in Oklahoma alone. In their names, I advocate for common-sense gun laws as part of the Oklahoma chapter for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and as President-Elect of the National Parent Teacher Association (National PTA).
Black males are 16X more likely than white males to be shot and injured in assaults involving guns.
Although National PTA has long advocated for common-sense gun laws, I first heard about Moms Demand Action at National PTA’s 2015 Annual Convention.
I then learned about Moms Demand Action’s secure gun storage campaign, Be SMART for kids, at a gun violence prevention dinner hosted by National PTA. The more I learned about our nation’s gun violence crisis — and more importantly, ways in which we can solve it — the more responsible I felt for doing something about it.
75% of high school students cited mass shootings as a primary source of stress.
Now, I am a co-leader of a local Moms Demand Action group in Northeast Oklahoma City, the community where I grew up. Together with hundreds of volunteers across the state, we advocate for our lawmakers to pass common-sense gun laws.
We all know how frustrating it is when our federal government continues to do nothing to quell the gun violence that is taking our country by storm every single day. That is why it’s so crucial that we advocate at the local, state, and federal levels.
Most people who attempt suicide do not die – unless they use a gun.
The Oklahoma chapter of Moms Demand Action is a force to be reckoned with. When the state’s congress is in session, our vivid red shirts are present in every hearing, every committee meeting and every lawmaker’s office. And that’s precisely where we’ll be in February 2020 when lawmakers return to the Oklahoma statehouse.
Nevertheless, despite swaths of evidence showing that common-sense gun laws save lives, our state legislature is intent on weakening Oklahoma gun laws. This year, we expect that lawmakers will try to pass two incredibly risky bills that would remove the training requirements for teachers carrying guns in schools and force college campuses to allow guns.
In the United States, homicides account for one-third of gun deaths – over 13,000 per year.
Putting guns in the hands of teachers is always a bad idea, no matter the level of training they receive. But dramatically cutting the amount of training a teacher must have in order to carry a gun in school in Oklahoma would make an already risky situation even worse.
Moreover, when our children leave high school and move on to college, they deserve the chance to grow into young adults on university campuses free from fear of gun violence, which is why we’ll be urging our lawmakers to oppose these policies.
One study put the overall societal cost for each gun-related assault at $1.2M.
So to everyone frustrated by our nation’s gun violence crisis and eager to do something to protect all of our children, we invite you to text JOIN to 644-33 to join the fight. For more information about the toll of gun violence on our society click here.
Together, we’ll keep showing up at the statehouse until our lawmakers dare to stand up for gun safety. It takes a village to keep our families safe from gun violence.
Anna King is a volunteer with the Oklahoma chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and serves as President-Elect of National PTA.