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Before Katherine “Kat” Massey’s tragic death in a shooting rampage by a white supremacist, she tirelessly fought on behalf of gun violence prevention. Massey, 72, was one of 10 victims of a grocery store mass murder in a predominately Black area in Buffalo, NY, last weekend. 

She was an active member of her community, and wrote letters to her local newspaper on behalf of issues facing her community. She started writing in 1999 and continued until her untimely death. 

Massey was passionate about several causes, including education for local children, and dressed up to visit schools, according to her sister. She had a “powerful voice” said one local legislator in Buffalo.

Massey also took issue with gun violence. In the Buffalo Challenger, a local Black newspaper, she excoriated those illegal gun owners and sellers, who she stated contributed to senseless violence in her community.

Massey also addressed Buffalo’s failed attempts at arresting such illegal firearm dealers and sellers. In one letter, she wrote about the cries of those loved ones who had lost families to gun violence.

Ms. Massey believed that the federal government played a role in failing to prevent gun-related violence. “Current pursued remedies mainly inspired by mass killings — namely, universal background checks and banning assault weapons — essentially exclude the sources of our city’s gun problems.” 

Fighting against Buffalo gun violence until her final day

Massey was passionate about fighting illegal gun trafficking. She continued, “Illegal handguns, via out of state gun trafficking, are the primary culprits.” 

Not only a civic-minded community member, Massey is also remembered for her kindness. Her sister, Barbara Massey, wrote about her extensive support for friends and fellow community members.

“She was the most wonderful person in the world. She’d cut grass in the local park, do the trees, give kids on the street toys. That was my sister, anyone she could help,” she said. 

Massey’s killer, an 18-year-old self-avowed White supremacist and anti-semite, live-streamed his killing rampage on Twitch. Previously he wrote a manifesto, referencing “replacement theory” or the idea that White citizens are being replaced by immigrants, and Brown and Black people.

The murders are being investigated as federal hate crimes. The shooter pleaded not guilty and is being held without bail.

Meanwhile, Massey, and the other nine victims, are the focus of the tragedy. Her words and actions eventually contributed to the city’s efforts to change gun laws, to which Massey wrote in yet another letter, “Hallelujah!” 

Erika Stone is a graduate student in the Master of Social Work program at the University of Oklahoma, and a graduate assistant at Schusterman Library. A Chess Memorial Scholar, she has a B.A. in Psychology...

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