Local Actions to Address Gun Violence

Recorded on June 1, 2023, 12PM ET

Learn from some of the most notable women gun violence prevention advocates about how to craft and communicate persuasive messaging and how to sustain hope in an emotionally intense movement, helping you create your own plan of action to build a lasting, inclusive local movement to address gun violence in your community.

Welcome, everyone. Thank you for attending this important conversation. We are excited to have our panelists from all over the country joining this conversation. This is Keeping Our Community Safe, Local Actions to Address Gun Violence. We will set reminders for you all. This session is being recorded. We will release this at a later date if you wanted to share it with someone in your network or revisit the conversation. Closed captioning is available using the CC box at the bottom of your screen. We also have ASL interpreters that we will spotlight. Thank you for joining us. We would like for you to utilize the chat. Make sure it is set to ‘everyone’ so everyone can see what you are sharing with the group. If you have any questions for the speakers, we have a Q&A box at the bottom of the screen and we will try to get to as many questions as possible, and if not, we will leave contact information for any specific questions.

There will be an opportunity to fill out a three-minute survey that really helps us to improve programming. We would love for you to participate in that and we will drop the link. It will be dropped in the chat to bookmark and take at your leisure and that will help us. Thank you. Let’s get to our agenda. Today we will meet with our incredible speakers. We’re going to spend the majority of time tackling some questions and then open it up to you, the audience, for any questions you would like answered specifically. We will meet our speakers,have that great discussion, and leave you with takeaway action items and skills. Then we will follow it up with next steps on how to stay engaged with She Should Run and your local community moving forward.

With that, I will hand it over to our CEO and founder Erin Loos Cutraro to talk about She Should Run and our issues.

Excellent, thank you, Amanda and thank you everyone for being here today. I’m incredibly grateful for the essential conversation that we will have. To kick us off, I wanted to tell you a little bit about She Should Run. We’re a national nonpartisan organization that is working to help women see their potential in elected office. And unlike many of the amazing traditional political organizations you probably know that help the candidates, She Should Run’s target audience are women that are from all walks of life who care about issues and making our communities better, but who haven’t explored their own path to elected office just yet. Because our work is finding the women who aren’t looking for us, we do our work by partnering often with great organizations, community foundations, corporations, and other entities that have large, built-in audiences of women. Once the women get to She Should Run, we offer programming that helps them get centered and light their own fire in their belly that we all need. Helping them get better connected to being more into getting engaged in their communities. Then we demystify those resources that do and will exist when a woman decides to make the decision to run. Just navigating to you can see around the corner what will be there to support you when you make that decision and we’re hopeful that it’s something you consider.

We are a safe space for women to peek behind the curtain on what it looks like to run for office and lead in office. To this date, we have brought over 40,000 new women to the table of possibility, which is well on the way to the bigger goal of seeing 250,000 new women step up to the plate by 2030. If you’re interested in learning more about how to channel what is your own life experience into what could be elected leadership or getting more engaged, I encourage you to join our Community. Miriam will post the link to our community in the chat and with that, I would like to turn the tables and learn a little more about you. We’ll pop up a poll that’s going to help us understand who’s joining us today. We will give you a few minutes to answer. Fun fact, this is a question we ask everyone who joins the She Should Run Community. We talk about it as ‘mindset’ and often the women that we are working with are very early in this stage, haven’t considered it but maybe want to run someday and that is great. I will give you just a minute. Hopefully, you can see the results pop up on the screen. It’s always fun to see. We have some folks, the bulk of you have put some thought into running for office and maybe you won’t do it and that’s okay. We want you to think about it and we are grateful that you are here today thinking about it through an issue that’s incredibly important.

With that let me briefly tell you why we are here today talking about this incredibly important topic of gun violence. This is new territory for She Should Run in that we set out to find women who aren’t necessarily looking for us. In order to do that effectively, we have done a deep dive and, last year specifically, did a comprehensive research around the motivators to get more women to think about running for office. We know a lot about why women don’t run, but there’s not a lot about what moves a woman to consider running for office if not already thinking about it. And because we care deeply about building a pipeline of women fully represented in the great diversity of this country, the research results that we got were thick and nuanced, capturing women from all different backgrounds and perspectives and how to reach them. There was a through line that was really important and that’s what brings us here today. If we want to reach women not already thinking about running for office, we need to lean into the conversations that they’re already having about issues that are important to them. With that information we went to experts in the field from organizations like YWCA to understand what issues are top of mind and this is where you see these five issues on the screen. Climate change, reproductive health, the economy, racism, and the issue that we’re talking about today, gun violence. Miriam will post the link to our chat report that we did in case you want to know more on why issues for us, the bottom line is if we want to see meaningful change on issues that matter to us, we need more women at the table influencing policy on these issues. Let’s dive into a conversation about this particular issue and why it is important, as we all know it is. There is no debate around the reality that gun violence is a national crisis. I am going to share some overall statistics that some of you may be familiar with because, I’m sure speakers will speak from their experience from their organizations and individual ways they are influencing this issue for the better. Know that we will share after the event webinar notes with sourcing, a lot of what we are talking about, as well as a recording of this conversation that members of our community will have access to for 30 days after this event. Let’s get into it.

The statistics are quite staggering. So far this year, we have seen more than 200 mass shootings in the United States in 2023 – this year on track to be the worst in recent history. Every year there are more than 37,000 people killed with guns, guns are the number one killer of children and teens in America. And nearly nearly 2/3 of intimate partner homicides in the United States are committed with a gun. Also something that is notable to call attention to when talking about this issue is there are more than one million women in the United States alive today that reported being shot at or by an intimate partner. Women in the United States are more than 11 times more likely to be killed with a gun than women in other high income countries. The statistics are heavy and can be hard to digest. There is hope because the majority of Americans agree that we want stricter gun laws and are concerned and know this issue is something that needs to be tackled. And even a Fox News poll a month or two ago found that individuals would prefer focusing on gun safety measures rather than this thing you sometimes hear come up which is arming individuals as a solution to gun violence. With the majority of Americans on the same page about the urgent need to address gun violence, we are here today to shift the focus from how we will get this done to who is going to do it. With that, and just before I bring on our amazing panelists we have one more poll for you recognizing that gun violence is this horrible unacceptable daily consequence that’s a reality for far too many Americans. We are curious to know for anyone that’s comfortable sharing what your experience is. You can feel free to select one and if you feel like your experience isn’t represented here and you still want to share you can do so in the chat. I will give you a moment to reflect on that.

While you are reflecting, I see do Stephanie, thank you for posting, wear orange tomorrow for national gun violence awareness day. I’m so grateful for you posting that. I hope that parts of the conversation today are reminders of what we can do.

We can see that the majority of folks today are concerned about the threat of gun violence in your community and it is very real. And I just want to acknowledge here too that some folks part of this conversation have had personal experiences, which we just appreciate you being here in the conversation.

With that, and I hope our speakers can take that in and know more about our audience members, I want to transition to introduce our speakers. I will name our speakers and call on each one of you to do a quick introduction of yourselves. I always find that hearing it from yourself is more helpful than me reading a bio. Our incredible lineup, thank you for making the time to be here, includes Tennessee state representative Gloria Johnson, Ariel Hobbs, a program coordinator at March For Our Lives, Amber Godwin, the founding director of Community Justice Action Fund, and Dr. Nicole Hollywood who is a deputy chapter leader with Marilyn’s Moms Demand Action. — Maryland. We will kick off by giving the floor to Rep. Johnson to introduce herself.

Hello everyone. Great to be here today. I’m Gloria Johnson, state representative from Knoxville, Tennessee House District 90. I am relatively new to politics,got involved during the Obama campaign and was hooked and stayed in it. But I come from teaching, I taught special education for 27 years. In 2008, I was teaching at Central High School in Knoxville and we had a shooting and lost a student that day. This issue has always been critical and in the forefront for me. I have run red flag bills a couple of times. I have run safe storage laws a couple of times, and we are heading into special session August 21st. We are supposed to be discussing gun violence. I’m not sure how it will go. My colleagues across the aisle are not too happy about it. But we are organizing and young people are passionate and active, so we have hopes for August 21st.

Thank you representative Johnson. And Ariel, do you want to join and introduce yourself?

Thank you for having me. I appreciate the opportunity. I am Ariel Hobbs, 24-year-old — no, 25-year-old from Houston Texas. (Laughter). I currently work for March For Our Lives as our program coordinator, part of the organizing team and I have been involved with March For Our Lives since the very beginning in 2018 when I helped with a bunch of my colleagues, a March in Houston, which was the largest demonstration in the city of Houston’s history. Shout out to us. We did a lot in a month. And ever since then I’ve been really involved with the gun violence prevention space and a volunteer professional capacity around my community in Houston. As a Black woman, which that demographic falls at the center of the most impacted group of gun violence, I am just really passionate about this issue. Speaking for young people, young women, and young women of color and really trying to raise the roof and try to get people to understand how big of a crisis this really is.

Incredible! Thank you for sharing your story. Let’s go to Amber.

Hi everyone. My name is Amber Godwin, pronounced she /hers and I’m right up the road from Ariel, I’m in Austin Texas. I come to the space wearing two hats. I am a representative district attorney here in Austin and I work on the special victims unit and gun violence and personal violence and our city and County prevention work. I’m also the founder of the community justice action fund which is an organization I started seven years ago next week and prior to that I was the advocacy director for Gabby Giffords organization. When I started working on gun violence almost decade ago I was working on different bills and even though I’m from Texas, I have never really have been around guns before and I was like this is someone else’s issue from over there, and then the Charleston shooting happened and I saw the impact of people that look just like me and Ariel, that look like so many of us on this screen. I went around the country and as representative Johnson I have a background in organization. I organized myself into a job and started an organization that is working on gun violence at the intersection of gun violence, race, gender, and different issues like that and specifically in communities of color working on community violence intervention and that’s the work that community justice action fund does. I’m so honored and excited to be here. Thank you, and as everyone in the chat has been saying, it is gun violence awareness month, so I can’t imagine a better group to be working with. I just have to fangirl about Representative Johnson, not only because of everything you have done, but because my mom was also a special ed teacher for 45 years, so thank you for all the work you did as a teacher.


Hi, yes, I am Nicole Hollywood, and I live in Salisbury, Maryland. In my day job, I am a college professor and I am also the Deputy Chapter Leader for Maryland’s chapter of Moms Demand Action, so I want to thank everyone who mentioned wear orange because we are going into wear orange weekend starting tomorrow which is national gun violence awareness weekend. We wear the color which is the same that hunters wear to not get shot by other hunters to raise awareness to the national epidemic of gun violence.

Thank you, Nicole. And what incredible conversation we will have here. Let’s get right into it, and I want to acknowledge that I know some of you and I appreciate your sharing your stories in the chat. Please feel free to do that and know that it is being seen even if we are not addressing it in our conversation directly, I appreciate each and every one of you. I will kick us off with a question that anyone can jump in on. I will ask Rep. Johnson first. With all of the issues we talk about as an organization, but I think with gun violence specifically, there is such an incredibly well-funded industry that we have to battle in your work around addressing gun violence, and that’s the well-funded gun lobby. I am curious: how do you in your work as a state representative, how do you feel your way through and push your way through knowing that change is happening when there is such a big push in the opposite direction? Do you hold onto wins, how do you do it?

It’s really interesting because it is tough, especially the day that we went to the well. The three of us went to the well because we felt we needed to speak. Out in the rotunda and out on the legislative plaza, thousands of people, and it was parents and students and these people were passionate about this issue and took off work, showed up and had their toddlers on their shoulders. They wanted us to talk about this issue and do something. My colleagues, I went early so I could talk with people and hear what they had to say. My colleagues literally walked onto the house floor and didn’t even make eye contact with them. And there are thousands of them. Up in the gallery, you see several of the lobbyists from the Tennessee Firearms Association. We know there are covenant families present that day in the rotunda and all around the capital. They had on pins that were AR-15 pins. It is so disrespectful to those parents and those families and those children. It is difficult up there. But what they are seeing, even though the elected supermajority is ignoring that 70 to 80% of Tennesseans in all counties including rural, want gun sense legislation. But it was sort of powerful to see the thousands who wanted change and then four or five in their fancy suits with the pins on that are the ones stopping this from happening. And the way that we will get them to come around is, those people may give them campaign donations and may endorse them in a campaign, but there’s a whole lot of Tennesseans who will no longer vote for them if they don’t do something different. We have to show them by showing up and seeing us stand up that there is a change happening. They are ignoring the will of even their voters and they need to step up and keep our kids safe and our communities safe and do what is right and do what the majority of all parties are demanding.

Thank you for your leadership there and for sharing. And Amber, I want to turn to you. Something that’s striking to me is hearing you say that in addition to the numbers on your side and knowing that it is the will of the people to do something about this and take action about this, the showing up in person matters. Being counted in the room matters. Amber, I’m curious, your experience with this and knowing that it is so hard to affect change for this. What is it that you hold onto that feels like a sign you are moving in the right direction?

Yeah, I’ll answer that question! I want to put into a little context too because this issue is so big and sometimes somebody will be out, one day at work I may talk about gun lobbying and then the next day I’ll talk about suicide prevention and the next day I’ll talk about something else. I also just wanted to say, and you talked about some of these numbers, but a lot of us in the gun violence movement think about gun violence in a couple of buckets. Around 40,000 people, more than that usually these years, are shot and killed and that’s just the number that we know. Out of those around 40,000 people, there’s 100,000 + that are shot and survived, so that’s an additional hundreds of thousands of people in communities that are impacted. We look at the lion share of gun violence in our country, about two thirds every year are by firearm suicides. And that’s getting higher and higher in our communities, especially communities of color, it’s younger people that are using firearms with the weapon of choice being a firearm. And then domestic violence is a huge part of gun violence as well. A lot of these solutions that we talk about are not only based in – we are not making them up but basing them in evidence. A lot of what the representative is talking about and we we on this call all agree on is not only the facts that we have a problem when 40,000 people that we know of are being shot and killed every year, and when we look at the disproportionate or disparate impact of gun violence, it is low income and it is black women and it is black men. Black people make up 13 to 14% of the population. Whenever we look at that 40,000 killed every year when it’s the homicides, we are 60 to 70% of all of the homicides. I’m saying all that to say that not only do we need to have the messaging that this is impacting people, but it’s impacting everybody because it impacts us when we see it on the news, it impacts our kids, it impacts our communities, but it is also the disproportionate impact that’s important to talk about when we say why do we show up? It’s affecting people in different ways, but impacting all of us. It’s impacting our day to day lives, so I think showing up is important. Back to what happened in Tennessee and what you’ve seen around the country, when I got started in gun violence, everyone was so focused on just Congress. They were like “everything has to happen in Congress and if it doesn’t and not a background check bill, you are not doing anything”. And we were like “hold on! There are other people that may have a responsibility here too”. What was so incredible about what happened with representative Johnson and her colleagues is that the world got to see there is skin in the game and accountability of what’s happening in the state houses across the country, whether a it’s special session or it’s a regular session or the mayor’s office, I worked for the District Attorney’s Office. We all have a shared responsibility and so relly messaging it and giving evidence and facts of what’s happening in the community and for those of us tht have – I say that I have the honor and privilege of never being shot and no one in my immediate family has and I didn’t do anything for that to happen. It’s just the way my life has been. It’s our responsibility to not just put it on survivors and people who have been impacted directly to bear the brunt of all this. I think showing up can look different ways, but it’s important to put it in the context of it’s not just mass shootings that we see and hear about all the time but the everyday shootings and the people dying firearm suicide and people dying domestic violence, and all these issues so many people are working on. There’s so many different ways people can show up whether online or off-line.

Yes, yes, yes to all of that. And I think too just to come back to your point of how important it is to not see this as such a big and impossible issue that you feel like you don’t have a place, what is my small role to play going to do, when you know in your heart what you just said. You know how big of a problem it is and that it is disproportionately affecting often the most vulnerable communities. I’m curious, Ariel, I’m going to bring you into the conversation. I would love to hear from you and your organizing, what is it that sort of keeps you helpful, that keeps you putting 1 foot in front of the other?

As many times as I’ve gotten this question asked, I always take a moment and think because this movement is ever-changing and always growing and it’s hard. Last week, myself and a few of my colleagues gathered at Uvalde and had the 1 year anniversary for Uvale. Today my answer is community, my love for my community. I have unfortunately met a lot of great and amazing people in this fight, whether they are survivors themselves, surviving family, workers, staff like me, that we are all connected by this really traumatic event. And one thing that I can speak for at March For Our Lives that we really drive home is the fact that you can’t really do this work if love is not at the center of what you do. This is not easy. Being in this fight, I’ve been involved in March For Our Lives since 2018. There’ve been a lot of hard, dark, deeply distressing moments in this work, meeting with families and survivors and talking to elected officials that I know, quite frankly, don’t care about what I am saying. It’s very hard and I cannot rely on the external to be my driving force. I have to have an internal driving force and that is my love for my community and the fact that I am so dedicated to wanting my community safe, to fighting for equity in my community because gun violence is such an intersectional issue that I know the steps that I have to take. This is the fight that I need to be in, I have to use my voice and my platform and my power in this way because if I don’t, we just become another statistic. And people use us in the fight of should we do this or should we do that when they don’t listen to the personal stories. I know the people and I talk to the family and survivors and it is those stories, their pain, my love for them, my care for them, my care for my community and myself. As representative Johnson spoke about, she’s a teacher, my dad teaches fourth grade and has been a teacher my entire life. I come from a family of educators. For me, I feel like there are so many lives at stake that I can’t not do what I’m doing. It gets hard. Before last year there was no meaningful passage of gun violence prevention legislation on a federal level in almost 20 years. That’s not something easy when you have been doing the work for so long like a lot of my colleagues have. It’s not easy to wake up every day and say “I’m gonna do it” in the face of rising levels of gun violence, in this epidemic that is getting so out-of-control, it’s not easy to say it, but you have to focus on the small wins and focus on: what are you doing in your community? What does it look like on a local level? Stop looking so big picture and look at what’s happening on a federal level, look at what you can control and how you impact your community and what progress is made in your community. Thankfully, I had a mayor in the city of Houston who, when we told him we were planning a march and filed for the city permit, his office called and said “let us know exactly what you need. We are here and we will do it and at that march, I will let them know that I will create a gun violence prevention community task force” and that was the first thing and his idea on his own. I have to hold onto those small wins and look at how many young people are ready to get involved in this movement and how many young people are putting their truth to power and engaging in this movement and not waiting for others to tell them “this is your time to stand up”. They are using their power and platform to make an impact on their lives. So, I use all that to fuel me and keep me going in this fight that is not easy, that is ultimately built on trauma and on tragedy, to keep me going that there is a light at the end of this tunnel. I will do whatever I need to do to make sure I pull us as far as we can go, but it’s not just me. I have a whole community and organization and movement that’s fighting me.

Yes. You are such an inspiration. And I appreciate your willingness to share this reality that it is day by day. You have to come back to love and what that fire is that’s making you show up every day, but every day isn’t going to look the same. Nicole, I would love to hear your perspective on this question and also, as someone that is a volunteer chapter leader, I am curious what you see as the motivators of individuals who are willing to give their time. I want to make it clear to the folks that are listening in today that this isn’t a job for someone else. If you showed up today, you care about this issue, you likely are already organizing in some way. I’m curious what you’re seeing and what keeps you going?

I like that everyone is talking about the intersectional nature of gun violence. We’re a nation of gun violence survivors where 50% of Americans have either been impacted or know someone impacted by gun violence. But you don’t have to personally have been impacted. I was, but it’s not a flex that you need to have. There’s no credibility in having been impacted by gun violence. All you need to bring to the table is that you care. Are you angry that black Americans are 12x more likely to be impacted by gun violence? Are you worried that 4.6 million children live in a home with an unsecured firearm? Are you upset about the absurd number of school shootings where that mass shootings is one of the things that is exceptional about our country. Whatever you bring to the table, you probably have skills that maybe you don’t know you have, either professionally or cultivated in your home. Maybe you’re great at organizing your family. Maybe you’ve always been fantastic on social media and built a following. You can come with any skill and the whole goal is to appreciate and nurture your volunteers and people don’t need to come with expertise. You can just come with a fire under your belly and some outrage. We have the expertise and the research is available, the trainings are there. People will help you. Always look to other people with knowledge. Always look at the nature of gun violence in your community because it changes everywhere. Where I live, homicides are more common than suicides, but that isn’t not the norm in America. Look at the communities most impacted by gun violence and speak to members in the communities and look to the groups that are making a difference on the ground in those communities.

Absolutely. Thank you for that too. I want to drive home the point that there’s no one way to show up for this incredibly important issue and what we want to do to change it. As Stephanie said in the chat, it takes all of us, that’s for sure. Rep. Johnson, I want to ask a question of you because as we talk about the importance of knowing we can all play a role and we can’t pretend it just happens in the federal level and in DC, and we don’t have the reach there, so what are we gonna do? I am curious what advice you have for our audience members in approaching their local and state elected officials. You’re sitting in that position. What is helpful for you to hear or to see that helps you ultimately advocate for issues that can make change in the policy rooms.

Interestingly, for me, I want to know the facts that everyone stated because that’s what impacts me. And also personal stories are always impactful. That’s what really makes someone understand more deeply. When you understand how people that are affected feel and have gone, if you have seen students running down a hill to your classroom screaming in terror, and after seeing something like this, it’s something that will never ever leave your mind. — Someone who can personally tell that story is a great way to get people to understand. When I tell people, the people you really want to reach our colleagues across the aisle. The best way to reach them is either when they’re in session, make an appointment to see them at the capital or when we are back at home, make an appointment to see us at home. I always tell people to go to their page on the Tennessee Gen. assembly website and familiarize yourself with some of the bills that they’ve passed and carried. Find something that they did that you liked and say “wow, I really appreciate you for supporting Tennessee Promise so every child can go to college”. That was such an important bill in our state. But then say, what I would really like to talk to you about, my concern in the theme of education and community is gun violence. L:et them understand that you know something they’ve done that you have liked and also meet with them every six months so that after the session, we ended in April, I tell people to go and meet with them and say I am disappointed that you voted “drop the age for guns to 18”. The other thing that’s really impactful is to know you are paying attention to their votes.

Nobody really thought anybody was paying attention to their individual votes. If you drop a couple of votes, a vote you liked or didn’t like, that makes them think “these people in my district are paying attention to how I am voting”. And continue to meet with them every six months and do that and then advocate for the issues that you care about, it really will go a long way. And like I said, telling stories, one of the biggest ways that I saw storytelling impact one of our legislators, ws a representative, very conservative, very anti immigration, went to a high school in his district and some of the students who were immigrants told their stories. And that really got started with the tuition equality bill because it made some people change their mind about how they saw immigrants, especially immigrants that went to school in Tennessee for five, 10, 12 years. Making sure that they were able to pay the same college tuition as other students in Tennessee who attended school here. Those personal stories are really just critical and talking to your legislators.

I’m so grateful for you sharing that, because it’s a side we don’t hear enough, which is that level of it’s not just the constituent’s voice and us not feeling like that voice matters and how much it really does matter. If you can carve out the days, the hours, the minutes, how much time you have to give can influence, ultimately, a policy that will affect so many. I’m going to turn to audience questions soon just to keep the conversation going. Before I do so, I’d love to hear, Amber, from you, on ways that if someone is coming to the table, and I know that a number of the folks in this audience may feel like an outsider on this issue, they may have a personal connection but are not sure where the limited time they have should go. Any words of advice for what you have seen on how community members can get involved in your role in community organization?

I will shout out the wonderful work that March For Our Lives and Moms does because they have chapters and incredible leaders all over the country and almost every single area in the country. I am not a young person anymore, even though I feel as if I am. But I know that even if you are not a young person, March For Our Lives does incredible work. I’m not a mother but Moms Demand Action does wonderful work. You don’t have to be part of their specific constituency in their name to be involved. For the work that I specifically do and that Ariel and other folks on this call do around CVI and community violence intervention, there’s people on the front lines every single day that are doing incredible work around Community Violence Intervention. The work that is stopping homicides that people are going out, called frontline interventionists or violence interrupters, are going out every single day and night and intervening and making sure that community beefs happening in major cities like Austin, they are stopping violence before it starts,and we don’t ever really hear about it on the news because they are not asked to speak in front of city Council, but they are my heroes and the people who are doing this work to keep everyone safe. Talking to them in every city I work in and all of us on this call, we know who they are and finding ways to support them. The folks on the front line, there’s tons of survivor led groups as well. I’m happy to and I’m going to tell everyone on here and those speaking on here would be happy to connect everyone with existing groups. One of the things that has happened over the last couple of years is I started my organization almost 7 years ago and there’s a ton of organizations. Don’t reinvent the wheel. There’s probably someone that is already doing or working on the issues that we all care about. If you’re looking to get involved locally to do things around community led organizing, please get in touch with your violence interrupter group. I’m happy to get you in touch with groups that are doing that nationally or locally, and the same thing, if you’re looking to work at the state legislative level across the country and in state legislature and the same with city Council. Just getting in contact with the local leaders who are already doing the work and as I learned from my organizing days, you will become the leader yourself or start to organize in a different way. I was contacted by someone that’s a physician and saying physicians aren’t doing enough. They are organizing physicians in the community. Lots of ways to be involved. Looking to the people that are already doing the work, seeing if you can fit in there, and if not, seeing how you can create something yourself or start your own volunteer organization would be great.

Amazing. I see it happening, although I cannot track every word, that there’s a lot of action happening in the chat. For our panelists and others participating, if there are calls to actions that you want to share, ways to sign up or get involved, please do share those. I have a question here that I’ll pose to the group, and we will see who wants to step up to answer from Ashley and wanting to run for school board. I love this question. Someone interested in running for school board who cares about this issue specifically, what can a school board do to impact this issue? Would anyone like to share, any of our panelists?

I want to jump in here because we are already working on something like this for March For Our Lives. In general, school boards actually control a lot. I can only speak personally from the experience I had in Texas. But in Texas, our school boards are pretty powerful. As we see across the country how powerful school boards are with some of the laws being enacted. From a school board standpoint, you can actually engage in a lot of work that Amber was talking about. The community violence interruption has been researched and proven that the presence of school officers do not make schools safer. They actually result in more people of color or minority groups coming in contact with law enforcement. As we sadly learned in the gun violence prevention space, once you have that first record with the police, it never stops. So, policing and school resource officers are not necessarily the safest option. And we have seen that the myth that is put out there and has been carefully crafted by the gun lobby that a good guide with a gun stops a bad guy with a gun, unfortunately I would like to tell them, talk to our friends at Uvalde, talk to my friends at Parkland, talk to my friends at Santa Fey, and they will say that the narrative you are trying to push is not 100% correct. It is really about getting to the root cause of gun violence and understanding what is making this happen. As a school board member you can push for including, instead of increasing the budget for more school resource officers, instead increasing the budget for more school counselors because guidance counselors do a wonderful job. But each guidance counselor will have at least 200 kids. It’s not realistic or fair to put all that work and monitoring and responsibility on a school guidance counselor.Increasing funding for more school psychologists and psychiatrists and creating a safer space for students that feel like they are not safe at home or in their communities or something they want to report but don’t know necessarily know how to report it have a way to do it safely without feeling like they will be criminalized or judged and it will get out to their peers that they told on what was going on and creating a safer environment for kids and for students and for teachers to come in there and voice their opinions. My father is a teacher and I have talked with him about being armed before and what he thinks about that, and he’s not the biggest. Teachers have a voice in this fight too. We work the American Teachers Federation, NEA, and a bunch of teachers unions all the time and they talk about how they feel like it’s time for teachers to stand and say what they need to say because they are just as impacted and invested in the fight as the rest of us are. Is a school board member you can be the ally on the school board that can speak and be a platform and amplify all these concerns and voices in a healthy way.

Yes. Ariel, thank you. What I love about this is, I feel like every single question that we have from the audience we could dive into, and we have so many calls to action for people to understand how to get involved because I want to make sure we have representative Johnson and then Nicole jump in on this question. Thank you for raising your hands by the way. Representative Johnson, why don’t you go first?

I wanted to mention what our school board would do, a couple of the members, my school board member, is in Nashville a lot lobbying for the things they care about because there’s lots of attacks on public education to be honest. But they typically will write a resolution of support and if that resolutionpasses at the school board level then we know how our board members feel about that. When you think about it, these people are elected in districts almost as big as ours and they are supporting this idea of common sense gun laws. It can be powerful in the decision-making of representatives that every school board member in my area supports this and perhaps I should think more deeply about what my vote will be.

Yes. Absolutely. Nicole? Did you want to add in?

Yes. You don’t have to be a member of Moms Demand Action to take advantage of our resources, we are happy to provide and work with any group that wants to work with us. We do have a program called be smart for kids that is specifically targeting parents of parents and deals with safe storage and suicide awareness and looking at gun violence in a number of ways, but it is specifically targeted to prevent young people and vulnerable adults from getting access to unsecured firearms. It is currently that 8.6 million kids in the United States are receiving this be smart information directly from their schools. We have sample proclamations to give you. Everything is already there and we are happy to work with absolutely any group. All of this information is free.

Goodness, thank you. I’m going to name a couple things that I am seeing pop up in the questions because there are so many we cannot get to, I’m sorry. We will have more conversations to come. But I want to name them in case any of our speakers in your closing remarks want to reference any of the things I am mentioning or if there’s a resource that you want to share in the chat, please do so. I am seeing incredibly important questions about how do you host conversations in communities around this issue without sugarcoating it? How can you hold effective trauma-informed discussions on gun violence (from Annabella)? We also have a question about how to talk about this with folks that want to intimidate us? That might be the naysayers that will show up to these discussions that might be in your family. When you’re trying to change hearts and minds, any tips that you have on where to send folks for that? And when shootings are happening every day, but you have those moments like we recently had in Tennessee, what support, this is for you the Rep. Johnson, what support are you looking for from people who aren’t directly impacted or aren’t right there? I say all that just in case there are some resource that anyone wants to share in the chat. I will transition very quickly and very briefly to some housekeeping items and then have our speakers give closing remarks.

Four quick points that I want to hit before closing remarks. Number one, I invite you all to pay forward your participation and the next person’s participation in events like this and the programming that She Should Run offers, all the programming is free to participates but we do our work and are able to do it by the great support of individuals that donate to our organization whether it’s $3 dollars, $5, $20. There will be a link that Miriam will share, if you feel so moved we greatly appreciate your support. We are a 501c(3) nonprofit and our work is made possible because of you. Two, I know at the start, it was mentioned by Amanda at the start, we are a learning organization, tell us what we can do better. We’re going to keep hosting these conversations. Clearly we have so much more to talk about here and take the time to fill out the survey. Three, just a simple thing you can do within our community, we have a course called building a better community, it’s great for the summer, you take it at your own pace. It’s an easy way to get involved with She Should Run and build your own path forward if that’s something that you are so moved to do. And lastly, a note that coming up as we continue having these incredibly important conversations, the next topic in a similar format will be on reproductive health that we are doing in partnership with the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice on June 21. I encourage you to sign up if that is an issue that is near to you. With that, I would like to turn back to our speakers for quick closing remarks and I just want to thank you on behalf of the She Should Run team for making the time to join us today. We will start with Amber.

Thank you again for having me on here. Just in closing I think everyone puts in so many incredible resources so I will just say that you can show up however you want as a gun violence activist. You don’t have to wear a certain organization’s T-shirt or show up in person. You can show up online and the one thing that gets me out of bed but I think we all have in common, at least all of us as panelists is that I know I believe that another world is possible than the one we are in right now. Kids shouldn’t be scared to go to school or us be scared to have kids go to school or be scared to go to the movie theater or hte mall. We are on the right side of history no matter what your politics is in terms of this issue just by showing up today. I know there’s other things you can do today and so there’s just a ton of ways to be involved. Please do not feel like it’s a fatal cause. A lot of people feel that way when there’s no movement in the local community or if the bill doesn’t get passed. But think about what happened with representative Johnson and how hard they had to fight and they are probably saying they are just getting started and have so much work to do. But It took a lot of time to get there. Please don’t feel defeated. If you want to talk to us and what you can do locally, if you have a great idea, please do it. We need you in this fight, this fight is everyone’s responsibility. Thank you for having me on.

Thank you. Ariel?

I will try to keep it quick. I always go long. I’m gonna just try, that’s my goal. I want to say thank you to everyone for joining us and She Should Run again for inviting me to be on this panel. Echoing Amber’s statement, you don’t have to show up in the movement thinking you have everything together. I was a 20-year-old college student when I got involved with this movement. I was angry and sad. Sometimes that’s all you need. The need to want to do something and the understanding that there is a problem but that there’s also a solution. Gun violence, I will stand on the square as long as I’m working in this movement. It will not just take legislation to end this, it takes community power and building. Understanding that you have the power. You have the power to make a change and making an impact on your community is just as important. Your community is what is important to you. Your community is a part of a million other communities across the nation. If we all make an impact and mobilize and empower and engage all the communities, that’s how we make the change happen. It will never be in this one fail swoop that we legislate it out and we never have to think about it again. It’s gonna take more than that and it really takes the support of the community. Getting involved in your community is a great way to start your work in this movement. Gun violence is not an issue that you can be an expert on unless you do research. I’m not an expert on gun violence, I just know people and that’s what I say. Don’t feel like you have to come in with all the stats and all the information and I know this person and this one, that doesn’t matter. Just come there with your heart open, your mind ready, and all the emotions you have whether sadness or anger or happiness or whatever, and let it feel you and get you involved and just understand from a young person’s perspective it will take all of us. One thing I’ve learned specifically in this fight because I live in a state where they don’t necessarily agree with what I am doing and what I’m fighting for. This issue though it’s become a partisan one, we are dealing with a human rights crisis like no other. I think that’s what people need to understand is that regardless, gun violence does not determine did you vote? Which way? Where do you live? What’s your socioeconomic status? How do you identify? It doesn’t stop. When a bullet comes out of a gun it doesn’t go through that thought process and determine who they want to hit based on arbitrary info. Gun violence is indiscriminate. It impacts everyone and that’s the way I personally interact with people that don’t necessarily agree with my issue or that have a different perspective is that do you like people dying? No? That’s the easy common ground. It’s understanding that’s what we’re all fighting for, to make our community safer and for us to all have a safer, more equitable life and not worry about going to the grocery store or movie theater or school or the park. That we can just live and be safe and live life in the way we want to.

Thank you. Nicole?

I think the other panelists echoed my thoughts, which is that there’s no right way to come to this movement. There’s lots of great groups on the ground doing the work. What’s important is there is a place for everybody. What you need to know is listen to the people most impacted by gun violence, listen to their stories. People want to be heard and recognized. There’s so many people impacted. As far as politics, there’s so many ways to get involved. It’s great for people to run for office. We certainly need more women to run for office. But, even if it’s as simple as saying, I know for Maryland, I can volunteer for Rep. Johnson’s campaign because I can text bank. Right here from my home in my pajamas. There’s 100 ways that we can get involved and there’s a path for literally everybody. What’s important is that we choose to get engaged and decide not to sit on the sidelines.

Thank you. Rep. Johnson?

I’m just so excited that this movement is growing and building and so many people have reached out to Tennessee since we had our little incident at the end of session. It’s just amazing to see. We are trying to build a multiracial, multigenerational and multi-partisan – The last 10 days of session there was a group of women every single day at the capital that had their signs, republicans for gun sense. It’s really captured all the groups and all of the organizing groups like Equity Alliance and Planned Parenthood. Everyone is getting engaged in the issue. And it’s just critical, we know as It’s been said on here, the much larger impact in Black communities. That is so critical that we are working on this together. We came through a session that was pretty tough. Now I can say that Rep. Pearson and Rep. Jones and I, we have a lot of hope for what’s coming because of this coalition that has been built and because the young people are so smart and so passionate and they are not stopping. Just yesterday, they were at the capital. They are coming every Wednesday to the capital until the special session. And a precious young man drew a poster and I told him he could hang it on my door. I talked to him on FaceTime because I wasn’t in my office but he put that sign on the door. They are maintaining and they are moving this movement and we have so much hope that we will actually get to see something done.

You all give me chills. The conversation has been so important and I’m so grateful for your time. For all of you, a quick close here, all gratitude to all these incredible leaders on this call today. If gun violence is something that’s driving you or someone in your life to make change, there are so many ways you can get involved that have been talked about here. Also, we encourage you to stay connected with She Should Run so your voice can show up in the policy making, wherever it is that you may or may not have started in this journey, can be heard. Thank you for everyone who showed up online, and we look forward to more conversations to come.

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