By Nathalie Sczublewski
Twenty-two people in El Paso, Texas ran errands at a shopping mall. Nine people in Dayton, Ohio were enjoying a night out.
On Aug. 3, 2019, a gunman opened fire on shoppers at a Walmart near the Cielo Vista Mall in El Paso, killing 22 and injuring 26. Just hours later, nine were slain and 27 others were wounded outside Ned Peppers Bar in Dayton by a shooter.
Thirty-one families grieve. Funerals are planned. Communities are torn apart. Calls for action amplify.
As of Aug. 10, which is the 222nd day of the year, there were 256 mass shootings in the United States, according to the Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit tracking every mass shooting in the country.
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and over 200 mayors from across the country signed a letter imploring the United States Senate for an emergency session for action on bipartisan gun legislation.
“Gun reform is action we need to take now, and is long overdue,” said Walsh. “The federal government has the power to enact strong and sensible gun laws, preventing these tragedies from happening.”
How do you prevent one of these tragedies from happening?
How do you deal after gun violence robs you from your loved one?
How do you deal after surviving gun violence?
How do you deal after your community is impacted by gun violence?
Grief works in many ways. There are stages to grief including denial, anger, depression and acceptance.
Four families turned their grief into action after losing their loved one from gun violence.
The night he lost his daughter Jaime in the Parkland, Fla. mass shooting, Fred Guttenberg became inspired by her friends from dance. They all pinned orange ribbons to their shirts (Jaime’s favorite color), when they visited their house.
“This year, not having that dance life in our life—more for my wife than me—is something that we really, really miss,” said Fred Guttenberg. “Our life was built around it.”
Jaime’s dance studio posted a photo of the troupe wearing orange ribbons. A week after the shooting, dancers and Broadway performers across the country wore orange ribbons. “It was crazy to see this happening,” Guttenberg said. “But that orange ribbon started on February 14th. It wasn’t until about two weeks later, someone said to me, ‘Do you know that that’s the color of the gun safety movement?’”
Guttenberg founded Orange Ribbons for Jaime, a nonprofit supporting causes important to Jaime in her life: dance, organizations helping children with special needs and anti-bullying programs. Guttenberg created Orange Ribbons for Gun Safety, a nonprofit advocating for gun safety policies and political candidates who believe in common sense gun reform.
Since Feb. 14, 2018, Guttenberg appears on media outlets advocating for change. He met with lawmakers including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL), former President and First Lady Barack and Michelle Obama and former Vice President, now Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.
Guttenberg expressed concerns over 3D gun printing to politicians like Rep. Katherine Clark (D-MA) and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey. After speaking with Guttenberg, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) created Jaime’s Law. Jaime’s Law will require universal background checks for ammunition purchases and aims to close the ammunition loophole.
After their daughter Carmen died in the Parkland shooting, Philip and April Schentrup, took her life savings and formed the Carmen Schentrup ALS Research Fund through the ALS Association. Carmen was determined to become a medical researcher and cure ALS.
The Schentrups travel back and forth from Florida, Washington state and Washington D.C. April Schentrup joined gun safety groups like Moms Demand Action. She and her husband met lawmakers in D.C. urging them for gun control and strengthening school security.
As a former school principal, Schentrup knew how to keep her students and faculty safe. She and other Parkland families attended the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Commission meetings. The commission identified and addressed issues leading up to and after the shooting. She was disappointed upon learning that her children’s high school failed to conduct an active shooter drill.
“I think that would have probably saved Carmen’s life,” said April Schentrup. “Because her class, a majority of them did make it to the safe corner in time, but there wasn’t enough room for all the kids because the teacher’s desk, and cabinets and things like that.”
“There wasn’t enough room for Carmen and three other students to sit in that safe corner,” she added.
Both the Schentrups and Guttenbergs joined forces with the 15 other families who lost a child or spouse on Feb.14, 2018. They created Stand with Parkland, an organization committed to advocating for mental health support, responsible firearm ownership and school safety.
As a survivor of gun and domestic violence, Jody Marchand shares her story and the loss of her daughter, Olivia. Marchand travels across Massachusetts educating others on recognizing the signs of an abusive relationship and bringing awareness to gun violence.
Marchand wants individuals, “to see the signs, so that they are aware.” Determined on reaching younger audiences, Marchand plans on speaking at colleges and high schools.
Marchand and her sister created the Live for Liv Foundation, a nonprofit educating society of warning signs of domestic violence and help those transitioning away from abusive homes. Every summer, the foundation’s annual Run for Liv/Ride for Liv Race raises funds for those adjusting after abuse. This includes finding work and housing.
Massachusetts State Rep. Liz Miranda of the Fifth Suffolk District, worked as a youth and community worker her entire life. After losing her little brother Michael, to gun violence, she vowed to make a difference.
Miranda saw an opportunity at the State House with a seat opening. She questioned whether or not she could see herself in a leadership role. She went abroad after Michael’s death and used that time for self-reflection.
“When I got back, I realized that I needed to be somewhere where I could impact laws and I could get more resources for my community, because my community is highly under resourced,” said Miranda.
She ran for office in 2018. Miranda won her district of Roxbury and Dorchester by a landslide of 88 percent of the vote.
“I wanted to be able to help other families in his honor,” Miranda said. “This has been a profound experience on changing the narrative and changing the conversation about how inner city communities are impacted about gun violence and murder.”
A study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that homicide is the second leading cause of death among youth aged 5 to 18. The majority of these deaths occur on or near campus. Firearms used in school shootings or suicides often come from the perpetrator’s home or from family or friends.
American women are 21 times more likely to be shot and killed compared to other developed countries, according to Everytown for Gun Safety research. On a monthly average, 52 women in the United States are shot to death by an intimate partner.
Data from Giffords Law Center found that guns are used in 50 percent of suicide deaths. Several states enacted gun laws limiting at-risk individuals from purchasing and gaining access to guns.
This year alone, over 20 firearm homicides were recorded in Boston. Over a four day period around the Fourth of July holiday, 17 people were injured in shootings across the city — including an 8-year-old girl at a Dorchester park.