Moms Demand Action
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After the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012, many Americans felt a call to action to reform our country’s gun laws. One of these people was Shannon Watts, a mother of five who started a Facebook group that turned into Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. Two years later, a mom in Texas joined her local chapter of Moms Demand Action after losing her 20-year-old son to gun violence. Calandrian Simpson-Kemp and Shannon Watts join us to speak about turning grief into action and passing common-sense gun legislation in a country that has a gun homicide rate that’s 25x higher than any other high-income country.
Keep up with Julián on twitter @JulianCastro and Instagram @JulianCastroTX.
Resources from the episode:
- Follow Moms Demand Action and Shannon Watts on Twitter
- Get involved in your local Moms Demand Action chapter
- Resources and research on laws mentioned in this episode:
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Calandrian Simpson-Kemp, Julian Castro, Cynthia Choi, Shannon Watts
Julian Castro 00:36
A little over a week ago, our country remembered the 17 people murdered in the Parkland school shooting just three years ago. That same day, President Biden called on Congress to enact background checks and ban assault weapons. Marking the beginning of this administration’s push for common sense gun law reforms. But what makes sense to one person might sound illogical to another. Conversations about gun violence aren’t easy, because we all come with our unique set of biases and preconceived notions. Most of us probably have strong opinions about guns. whether our reasons are cultural or political, driven by personal experience, or all of the above. Maybe you and your neighbor agree on the need for universal background checks, but you disagree on whether semi-automatic assault rifle should be banned.
The matching signs in your front lawns might stand in solidarity with the most recent school shooting victims, but you have very different ideas about the reach of the Second Amendment. This week, we approach these conversations through the stories of two moms both felt a call to action for different reasons. Calandrian Simpson-Kemp lost her son George to gun violence seven years ago, and later found support through her local Texas chapter of Moms Demand Action.
Another mom, Shannon Watts, started this grassroots movement as a way to address gun violence in our country. After the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting. We’ll hear from Calandrian and Shannon on turning grief into action, battling the NRA and passing common sense gun legislation under a new administration.
Julian Castro 02:22
This is OUR AMERICA. I’m your host, Julian Castro.
Thank you so much for joining me Calandrian. And first, I’m very sorry about the loss of your son, George, and I wanted you if you could do just tell us about him.
Thank you so much for having me on your podcast today to talk about my son George and my activism work with Moms Demand Action in my quest to end gun violence. My son George, my 20-year-old son was the love of my life. He was my only son. I have a daughter, but he’s my only boy. This kid was a Texas cowboy. He played football since he was four years old. He had his horses that he called his children. He just loved life. He loved dealing with children that nobody wanted to deal with in the community. And George would always use his horses as an avenue to let kids be who they were.
I mean, we got his first horse it when he was in ninth grade, we use it as his avenue to keep his grades up in school. It was times I told George, if you didn’t do your homework, or if you get a bad grade, you won’t go feed the horse. I’ll go. It just took George one time to make a bad grade. And as I drove off to go feed the horse, he cried. And so after that George just became so in love with these horses. And he mastered riding the horses on his own. George favorite horse, her name was Showtime. And she passed away like three months after George.
Julian Castro 04:06
And your son George was 20 years old when he passed away from gun violence. And what happened to him?
There was an altercation in September, George was at a football game. And him and a family member that had an issue with someone else was using George’s cell phone texting with some other young men. And from what I understand it was about a girl and so they agreed to meet up after the fight. You know, it was out in the suburbs in not knowing that the other participant went and picked up a carload of boys that had guns in the car. And George was there at the fight and the shots rang out. The one of the boys was getting beat up and he just started yelling, eff it, shoot him, and from what I understand, George was closest to the ones that had the guns in my son got shot in the back of the head in the twice in the back.
And as he laid down on the ground, they shot him two more times. And so that’s how my son lost his life. And I just kept thinking, if those guns had not been there, those young boys would have had a fight, they would have met up at school, and they would have talked about it laughed about it and say, “Man, that was so stupid.”—And not knowing I did not know, the availability and accessibility to guns in the community for young adults, I had no idea. And when this happened to us, I just sat for so long in his room thinking, where did the guns come from? I just didn’t understand where did they come from. And so I had made that Mark West, and my fight, to find out and to do something about it.
And as a parent of two children, like, I think every parent out there, it’s unimaginable to go through what you’ve been through, to lose your son, and to lose them under those circumstances to gun violence. A lot of people, a lot of parents, I think would be so distraught that it would be enough for them to just get through the day, and pick up back with their life. What is it that made you resolve to do something about it, to become an activist, you have to channel all of those emotions into something positive. I mean, can you just describe to me picking up the pieces and how you decided to do that?
Julian Castro 06:41
Oh, absolutely. I remember that very next day, after we bury George, my husband and I came on our front porch, and we just saw all the flowers. And I tell my husband, get them away, throw them away. I didn’t want anything to remind me of what just happened to the action that we just did. The earth opened up and we put our child in a hole. And I did not want to see anything. And so we went and my husband, I told him to keep the bowls. And I felt like the bowls were a symbolization of hope in birth.
And so we took those bowls from all the flowers, and we went to the cemetery. But the craziest thing, when we got to the cemetery, we had no idea where we buried George, I guess the funeral for us was maybe like an out of body experience. My husband was going one way and I was going the other way. We were two crazy backs in the cemetery trying to find where did we bury our son.
Y’all, we’re looking for the plot that you had just been to for the ceremony?
Yes, we were looking. And we had to go into the facility and ask them for help. I just remember standing there thinking, how in the hell did we get to this point? What happened? My brain was just not computing. But it was days and days and days that I sat on my front porch, and I would look down the street. And I wouldn’t see my son car coming. My husband went, he would beg me say Calandrian, please come inside. I said, I can’t not lock the front door. I’m stuck. So I kept this up. I mean, it would be times that I would wake up in the morning and I would be in my moo moo. And that for other people. That’s a night gown, but it’s a big girls night gown.
Calandrian Simpson-Kemp 08:34
And I would jump in the car because I’m running and I’m driving to the cemetery crying and screaming because I just could not. I’m looking for George now. Like, where did I put him he’s not in his room. And I was just, I mean, I became a crazy woman. So I kept going to the cemetery so much. And then one day, it hit me. I felt my son say “Mama, stop it. Just stop. You’ve done all you can do for me. You go out there and you help those that need help. Because you have always helped me.”—And I got myself up and pull myself together and I said, Okay, I’m gonna do what must be done. And I got in my truck. I left the cemetery and I said, “Okay, George, I’m not gonna look back.”—And the fight began and not just promised my son I said, Okay, if I must leave, every day that you are in this cemetery in this dark hole, is every day that I can get up and do something, I may be blind.
If I get blind or crippled or crazy. Haven’t seen girls, I don’t care. I’m a mom. And I know sometimes people say you mess with the wrong mom. But for me, I believe you mess with the right mom. Because I believe that I have the voice. I have the love of my son. I have the love for your child and for everybody else’s child that have the right To be here, nobody just kept saying nobody has the right to take my child’s life away. And so I believe that I have the right to get up and do what must be done in order to save our communities.
Julian Castro 10:15
So you had this very powerful moment there. And you know, this resolve to turn your loss into activism. How did you find Moms Demand Action? You know, once you had this sense that you needed to do something to make sure that what happened to George doesn’t happen to other young men and women? How did you find Mom’s demand?
Well, actually, what happened was, let me go back, let me jump back one little second, I started the village of mothers, because nobody came to my son’s funeral look like me. I didn’t see a grieving mother. So everybody said, I’m so sorry for your loss. And you know, they gone back they business but I kept saying, somebody’s got to look like me to show me that I’m going to make it. And so I just started saying, okay, cleanser, you be the solution. So I started finding mothers that look like me. And I started the Village of mothers on social media, Facebook group. Okay? So then, about 2014, I was sitting on My front porch, and my son, he loves his colors, orange and blue. He loved those colors.
So I’m sitting on my front porch, and I’m going through my phone, and I come across Orange event. All of a sudden, I say, is George speaking to me, this is about survivors of gun violence, I’m like, there’s got to be the way. So with the village, I was helping mothers to gather the voices and say, okay, we can fight, we can do this. But when I came to Moms Demand Action, there was a platform, and there were other survivors that looked just like me. And there was a cost. And I kept saying, I didn’t know that they were people already on the front lines, for gun violence. I had no idea. And I said, Well, this just gonna be the place where I’m gonna call home. And I said, George, I think I’m good. I think I can make it.
Julian Castro 12:08
After the break, we’ll hear from Shannon Watts on how this survivors network came to be, and how stories like Calandra, Ian’s are helping to move gun safety legislation forward.
I remember it very vividly still. I was at home. It was December 14, 2012 a very cold day in Indiana. And I was folding laundry, which is a full-time job when you have five kids. And I had the TV on in the background. And suddenly I saw breaking news that there was an active shooter in a place called Newtown, Connecticut, a city I’d never heard of, in an elementary school. And like everyone else in America, you know, my world stopped. And I just watched the television set and saw the breaking news for hours and hours of the tragedy that was unfolding. As we all know now 20 children and 6 educators were murdered in the sanctity of an American elementary school.
Shannon Watts 14:13
And I was devastated like you like everybody else. But then I became angry. And the reason I was so outraged was because there were pundits and politicians on my television set telling me the solution was somehow more guns. And I knew nothing about gun violence. I knew nothing about organizing. I knew nothing about the legislative process, frankly, right. I hadn’t focused on being politically active. And yet, I knew that was a lie. And I knew our nation was broken and I knew I had to get off the sidelines.
And that next day, that’s what I did. I created a Facebook page. I had 75 Facebook friends, so I always say I’m not sure who I thought I was talking to. But you know if you know anything about type a women, it was like lightning in a bottle. And suddenly I had women and mothers from all across the country texting me, emailing me, calling me, you know, all of my public information was online. So they were finding me any way they could to say, I want to do this where I live.
How was your outlook shaped by being a mom yourself?
Well, like everyone in America, you know, I had witnessed shooting tragedy after shooting tragedy and seen lawmakers do absolutely nothing in response. I mean, I was a young mom when Columbine happened, you know, I’m a working mom when Virginia Tech happened and on and on and on. And I remember when the mass shooting involving Gabby Gifford’s happened, and I thought, okay, surely her colleagues will do something in her honor. And they did nothing. And so I think that’s why when Sandy Hook happened, I knew that no one would probably do anything that really was on Americans. And I thought, in particular American women to get off the sidelines.
Shannon Watts 16:05
Now, I want to go back for a second and say, you know, I was a white suburban mom, who got off the sidelines because I felt my kids weren’t safe in their schools. And shame on me and so many other white women in this country who didn’t get involved until Sandy Hook because black and brown women have been doing this activism for decades with very little recognition. And because their children and their family members have been shot and killed in their communities.
And so what we quickly realized is that, while incredibly tragic mass shootings and school shootings are about 1% of the gun violence in this country. We have to also address gun homicides, whether you know, those are in city centers, or gun suicides in rural communities, or unintentional shootings and domestic gun violence. All of it is senseless and preventable is a unique crisis to America. And all of it has to be addressed.
You bring up a great point and one of the critiques of the larger movement for common sense gun safety laws, and one that I encountered on the campaign trail among some activists that would say, well, it’s been so focused on essentially this suburban environment of the mass shooter scenario. And what about addressing the everyday gun violence that happens in so many urban communities and particularly to communities of color and young people of color? How have you y’all reconciled that?
Well, you know, I think that’s exactly right. And that has for too long been the focus of gun violence prevention. And that’s why our organization is working on city gun violence. And we have a whole part of our organization dedicated to looking at research and data and understanding what’s happening. And sadly, it’s getting even worse, because COVID is exacerbating the gun violence in this country. Something we’ve seen work time and time again, are these community violence interruption, programs that desperately need funding in order to be effective.
Shannon Watts 18:16
And because of COVID, they’re even more hamstrung, because they’re not able to be as physically present in their communities as they were before. And so part of what we do is to fight for that funding. I’m also really heartened by what we’ve seen, in the wake of so many horrific shootings of unarmed black and brown Americans, everyone from a Ahmaud to Breonna Taylor, and what we saw happen in the aftermath of all those tragedies, was finally an interest among state lawmakers to pass police reform legislation.
It’s amazing when you look at the statistics of other countries around the world and their number of deaths because of gun violence. And you compare that to the United States. I mean, so many of us have seen those numbers, and it’s appalling, in the politics of all of that, how do you move forward in this country that has 400 million guns with a lot of lobbying power and just at the everyday level. How do you deal with that narrative that the right wing has created? That certainly makes your job harder.
Well, I want to be clear that you know, we are not anti-gun, we’re not against the Second Amendment. Many of our volunteers are gun owners or their partners are gun owners. We have a veterans council. This is simply about restoring the responsibilities that should go along with gun rights. There are plenty of other high-income countries that have a high rate of gun ownership per capita, that do not see anywhere near the amount of gun violence that we have in this country. We have a 25 times higher gun homicide rate than any other high-income country. And that is because of the NRAs agenda to give guns to anyone anywhere anytime no questions asked. And that can be reversed culturally, legislatively, electorally, even though corporate policies. And so we’re pulling all of those levers to change, create change around this issue.
Julian Castro 20:23
And how do you measure success Shannon, for the organization, and then on this issue in general?
Well, you know, once a law is passed, it does take time to look at how effective it is. So for example, if you look at Red Flag laws for a long time, there was only a handful of states that had them. When you looked at the data, you saw that they save lives, whether it was stopping mass shootings, or preventing gun suicides, preventing domestic violence. And so you know, we’ve been able to look at best practices and then extrapolate those laws to the rest of the nation. You know, for example, in California, where I live, we have some of the best gun laws in the country. I always say California is our […], Florida’s the gun lobby’s […] where they try to go pass the very worst laws that can and then extrapolate those to the rest of country like stand your ground.
And so really for us, we are measuring success right now on stopping the NRAs agenda, which again, we have a 90% track record of stopping the laws that they want to pass year after year, in state houses. We stopped them at a federal level, it’s important to remember that even though the NRA gave Donald Trump $30 million, and they had a Republican president and Republican Congress, they were not able to pass a single piece of their priority legislation in two years, because we had gotten so good at playing defense.
I think that you know, that bears repeating, you know, because people think of the NRA still as this like lawn mower that’s just gonna mow over and get whatever they want. But you’re right. I mean, they had the presidency, they had, you know, the ability to move things, at least in the Senate. And yet, they have not gotten any of their priority list done. If the NRA has a list of the people, they like the least, you’re probably high on that list. Talk to me about the NRA playbook after one of these mass shootings happens, and how y’all have responded to be as effective as possible to that?
Shannon Watts 22:30
Well, if you go all the way back to the Manchin-Toomey bill that was put forward after the Sandy Hook tragedy, it was a bipartisan bill, it would have closed the background check loophole and save lives. It was an honor of the tragedy that happened in Newtown. And it had about 90% or more of the support of Americans. And it failed. You know, the NRA made a choice, they could either come to the middle and moderate and say they supported something as common sense as a background check on every gun sale, or they could double down on this extreme agenda that they had that did not match mainstream America. And we all know that that’s actually what they did the ladder. And I’ve been working on this now for nearly eight years.
And I have yet to see them support any common-sense gun legislation, even when they say they will they always backtrack, for example, they said after the Parkland tragedy, that they would support red flag laws and then quickly change their minds. So the NRA has become a very extremist group, much like the Tea Party pulled Congress to the right in the 90s. There are these state-based gun groups of extremists who believe any gun law whatsoever is somehow an infringement on the Second Amendment. And they have been pulling the NRA to the right. And look on top of all that the NRA is under investigation on so many different fronts, from abusing their nonprofit status to tax fraud.
Shannon Watts 24:04
And so they are weaker than they have ever been as an organization. They made a huge investment this last go round and Donald Trump and lost. So I am hopeful that in the coming months and years, that organization will continue to be exposed for really the lobbying group that it is it is it has nothing to do with gun safety, or even gun rights.
What about Republicans? Republicans have been absolutely obstinate, antagonistic to the suggestion that we need to change, maybe with the exception of one or two people over the years, who have been open to doing it. What’s your take on what it’s gonna take to get Republicans to embrace some of these changes?
You know, I think it’s like any social issue where you have to expect that this is a marathon, not a sprint, and that it takes several election cycles to move the needle. I understand that people sometimes feel like nothing is happening because we haven’t had this cathartic moment in Congress that we’re all wanting and waiting for. But if you look at marriage equality, they started in the States, and really built-up momentum and changed laws and policies and culture, and pointed eventually the right president and the right Supreme Court in the right direction. And that is very much the work we’re doing on the ground. You know, you have to remember that not only have we pass background checks in 22 states, red flag laws and 19.
Laws that disarm domestic abusers in 29 states and more and more, we also have a 90% track record of stopping the NRAs bad agenda in state houses year after year for the last five years. And I think a really interesting example is Arkansas, right? That’s one of the reddest states where there’s a Republican supermajority, and yet our volunteers can become a political powerhouse there. And last session, they were able to stop, stand your ground twice. And one Republican lawmaker was interviewed by the media and he said that the NRAs agenda was too extreme for the state of Arkansas.
Shannon Watts 26:25
And so I do think that even though it can be frustrating, that grassroots activism is really about the unglamorous heavy lifting of showing up, day after day, bill hearing after bill hearing, meeting with your lawmakers, shaming them when they do the wrong thing, praising them when they do the right thing. And that’s how we’re doing this at state after state. And eventually, what you have is a situation where all lawmakers, regardless of their political party are on the right side of an issue.
For those who want to see gun violence prevention legislation, there’s certainly a greater promise of that now, what do you hope for when it comes to preventing more gun violence in this country? What would you like to see the administration and Congress do?
So you know, as I mentioned, we were having great success in state houses, but each of us is only as safe as the closest state with the weakest gun laws, because we don’t have these federal laws in place that we need. And so our hope is that we will be able to pass background checks which 93% of Americans support to enact a federal red flag law, which essentially allows police to get a temporary restraining order that will disarm someone temporarily if they are showing the warning signs that they could be a risk to themselves or others. There’s something called a Boyfriend Loophole in this country, which allows stalkers and dating partners easy access to guns.
So we’re hoping to close that loophole specifically through the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, and also to address police violence, bypassing the George Floyd justice and policing act. So we think that this administration can and will seize the moment through executive action, especially given the fact that COVID is exacerbating our gun violence epidemic.
Julian Castro 28:27
After the break, Calandrian talks about the media’s narrative of murders in black and brown communities, and the importance of solidarity when demanding change, and collectively healing.
So much of our conversation about gun violence over the last few years has centered around one specific context, which is a mass shooter scenario where a mass shooter murdered 22 people at Walmart in El Paso a couple of years ago, or, of course, what happened in Connecticut a few years ago. There’s also the kind of gun violence that happens every day in communities across the United States, and also impacts black and brown families disproportionately, unfortunately. How do we make sure that that’s as much a part of the conversation and that it’s at the forefront of policymakers minds? I imagine telling your story is important to remind people that gun violence affects families in so many different ways.
Exactly. Mass shootings, you have a collective group of people that will help you fight. But when you take a mother like me, that is an African American mother. Her child was killed by gun violence, and they can call it black on black crime. I don’t call it that. I call it community violence. And I kept saying, how do we get to that point? How did my child’s life get minimized that it became down to it was gang related. And when I really thought dissecting things I thought looking at it’s the media. When the media first paints the narrative that they want to desensitize our black and brown children. Other races can say, yeah, it’s just another black male dead, what I come to tell, you know, it’s just not another black male dead, it is a human being first.
Calandrian Simpson-Kemp 30:46
That was a life that was taken in so we have to change the narrative, we have to humanize, first of all, people and victims of gun violence. And this is happening every day. When I talk about my son, or when someone sees me, it sees, George, the first thing somebody say, oh, was a gang related? Where did you get that from? You don’t even know him. You don’t know anything about me.
They come with the stereotype right away.
They come with the stereotype right away. And then I have to look at the media didn’t do my son any justice, the headlines where it was gang related. Might they put all the blame on my son, this my son, this my son that. So even when I speak about my son, someone’s already Google and said, Oh, he deserved that. It always has to be what did they do wrong?
You have been an important part of Moms Demand Action, lending your voice and sharing your story, the story of your son, you I know you’ve been to the Texas Capitol to try and make a push for change in our home state of Texas. Could you tell me a little bit about that?
Calandrian Simpson-Kemp 32:02
That was an experience. I felt good going. Because I felt like, you know, I made a promise to my son, that I just wasn’t only just gonna help those in the community. But I also wanted to understand, I wanted to help the lawmakers understand what everyday citizens are going through, not just me as a black mom, but every citizen. I mean, you blow your horn in Texas, you get shot. There’s so many different ways that people are pulling their guns unnecessarily. In so going to the Capitol, and to be able to stand on those steps and look out and see a see a Moms Demand Action volunteers with those red shirts on. I said, I’m in the right place.
I felt like we are the people, we are part of the process. If we have a problem, and we want to see changes is our duty to go to those that we have elected to hear us. And so going through the hallway with other members of Moms Demand Action and survivors is very empowering. It makes you feel like, okay, this may fall on deaf ears for some, but maybe they may go home and look at the children and have dinner and think about all the red shirts that came and why we came.
There are a lot of moms and dads out there who unfortunately, have had your experience of losing a child to gun violence. Many of them may even want to do what you’re doing. But they haven’t taken that step down the road to activism. What would you say to a mother or father, who has gone through this heartbreaking experience of losing a child to gun violence has a story to share that can make a difference just like your story. What do you say to them about getting involved?
Julian Castro 34:06
truly what I would say let your heart speak to you. And let the pain swell up in your heart Let the tears come out. Because you have to get it on the other side of you. I’m not gonna lie and say oh, everything was just peaches and cream and I just got up and got moving. No, I had to go through some deep dark places. I had to deal with the anger I have to deal with Oh my God, I think I want revenge. Oh, how am I gonna do this? Can I get away with it? I’m cute, but I don’t think I’m gonna look good when orange going to jail. But, orange looks good when you’re a survivor and you join every time since I was at work. So that’s a different flip of orange. And what I do with the angel moms and angel dads my husband and I we tell them if you can get past the lump in your throat to speak about your child.
It is the hardest thing to stand up before anybody to admit to say that your child is no longer in this atmosphere, when you can tell yourself the truth, I say, I bury my son because he was murdered by gun violence, by young adults. And I have got to make sure that I do something to help somebody else’s child live and somebody else not go through this pain. When you join together, and you can go talk to the lawmakers and say, Hey, this is what happened to me, this is my personal story. You’re gonna feel so alive for that moment. So many times, families, especially the mom and dad, they want to hide what happened to them.
They want to stay at home, I tell the mothers and tell fathers, no, I want you to meet me. And I told him, grab all the pitches, you can meet me in the streets, these mothers came these family members came because they’re missing their loved ones, the community came together to say enough is enough. And I give those mothers the megaphone. And I say start shouting, no more bloodshed, and to hear it come from the pit of their soul. That’s what you want. You want not to hide what you’ve been through; you’ve got to show the impact of what gun violence has done to you and to know that you are a survivor.
Julian Castro 36:37
Recently, of course, a new president and vice president came into office, and this is an administration that has said it wants to do something to prevent gun violence. I know one of the things that every activists wishes is that they could have a few minutes with the president to tell him what needs to change. Let’s say that you were welcomed into the Oval Office, you know, a statue down there and said, “Miss Kemp, what can we do to make sure that what happened to George doesn’t happen to another kid in our country?”—What would you like to see done?
I would love to sit down with him. And let’s just review and then I would say, sir, we don’t have no time to waste, do I need to hold your hand up? I can hold it up for George, I can hold it up for every American. And I was gonna say, whatever you can do within your power at the stroke of the pen. Can you do that, like right now? And I believe having a gun since President that is a champion and a VP that is about gun says that they empathize with survivors and they see the impact that is causing that they would be able to do whatever they could do within their power at this moment.
Thank you for what you’re doing. And thank you for turning, you know, such as heartbreaking loss of your son George, into a positive push to make change, to prevent the kind of loss that you have felt as a parent from happening to another parent. I’m hopeful like you are that we’re on the cusp of real change in this country. It’s long overdue, but we wouldn’t be here without you and so many other moms and activists, men and women around the country and around the world who are trying to make a difference. So thank you.
Julian Castro 38:33
There’s so many factors that influence our view on guns, geography, upbringing, politics. But opinions aside, the data shows us that more needs to be done to make our country a safer place. Last year, gun homicide rates reached record breaking numbers. And even now, firearm suicide rates continue to increase and guns haven’t stopped contributing to domestic violence. There’s much to be done to make our communities safer. But organizations like Moms Demand Action are trying to ensure that guns don’t fall into the hands of people who will use them to commit violence.
I hope conversations like this helps you to start these difficult and often uncomfortable dialogues in your own community. Because who knows? Those could turn into a vote in favor of common-sense gun law reforms. Next time, we talked to Cynthia Choi of the San Francisco civil rights group STOP AAPI HATE about the disturbing outbreak of violence directed toward Asian Americans in our country.
Hundreds of individuals came on to our site and told as horrific stories of what they encountered largely verbal harassment and attacks and a number of hate crimes.
OUR AMERICA is a Lemonada Original. This episode was produced by Matthew Simonson. Jackie Danziger is our supervising producer. Our associate producer is Giulia Hjort. Kegan Zema is our technical director. Music is by Hannis Brown. Executive producers are Stephanie Wittels Wachs, Jessica Cordova Kramer and Julian Castro. Help others find our show by leaving us a rating and writing a review. Follow us at @LemonadaMedia across all social platforms, or find me on Twitter at @JulianCastro or in Instagram at @JulianCastroTX.