As the end of the year approaches, it is easy to look at the gun related tragedies that continue to happen in our communities and be angry. However, there is also reason for hope…
For many years I have worked with a population dealing with mental health and substance abuse issues. This population is particularly vulnerable in many ways, as victims and perpetrators of gun violence. The perpetration tends to be suicide. Our population also includes the family members and loved ones of the victims of gun violence. We try to help put the pieces back together into what will forever be a “new normal” for these families.
So, where is the hope? Our victims and families are starting to speak out. In the face of vitriolic responses on social media they continue to tell their stories and speak their truth. They are no longer cowered into not sharing the fact their loved ones may still be alive if there was not such easy access to guns. In the past, those with the loudest voices were those who irrationally screamed against even any suggestion of gun safety legislation. The atmosphere was exhausting and seemed hopeless, even when six year olds and their teachers were gunned down by someone who clearly should not have been allowed near any gun. But then a group of teenagers mobilized in the wake of their own unspeakable tragedy and the movement took hold.
You only have to look at the most recent elections to see that change is coming in terms of sensible gun legislation. The movement for gun safety now has the loudest voice in the room. Now is our chance to use our voice most successfully in continuing to advocate for saving lives; emotional and physical.