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“Gun violence survivor”– It’s an identity no one would ever want, but it describes more and more Americans these days. In the season three finale, we turn the spotlight on those who made it to the other side –– and are fighting back. Their goal? To make sure no one else has to endure what they did.


To learn more about the people and organizations featured in this episode and access critical information about suicide and violence prevention visit:

Stephanie Wittels Wachs is the host. Jackie Danziger is our supervising producer. Our producers are Kegan Zema and Giulia Hjort. Hannah Boomershine and Erianna Jiles are our associate producers. Andi Kristinsdottir is our audio engineer. Music is by Hannis Brown. Our story consultant is Kaya Henderson. Executive producers are Jessica Cordova Kramer and Stephanie Wittels Wachs. This season of Last Day is created in partnership with the Kendeda Fund, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Pritzker Pucker Family Foundation, Levi Strauss & Co, and Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund.

America’s psychiatric emergency systems are struggling to assist those in dire need of help. The Kennedy-Satcher Center for Mental Health Equity, a subsidiary of the Satcher Health Leadership at Morehouse School of Medicine, is partnering with Beacon Health Options to establish critical guidelines for dismantling inequity through its new research and policy initiative. You can join the movement too by attending their upcoming virtual summit. Go to to register today.

Beacon Health Options has also published a new white paper online called Reimagining Behavioral Health Crisis Systems of Care. Download it today at

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To follow along with a transcript, go to shortly after the air date.



Speaker 3, Dennis Nyland, Stephanie Wittels Wachs, April Ross, Janet Paulsen, John

Stephanie Wittels Wachs  00:00

This season we’re talking about guns, homicide and suicide, we’ve worked hard to ensure that our storytelling is as safe as possible. But we can’t address this issue by avoiding difficult details. Instead of warning, who should and shouldn’t listen before each episode, we want to encourage you to press pause if and when you need to. And please note, this episode contains discussion of domestic abuse and graphic descriptions of violence.

Dennis Nyland 

I’ve seen a lot of stuff, I’ve seen a lot of suicides, I’ve seen a lot of death, I’ve seen a lot of hurting people.

Stephanie Wittels Wachs

That’s Dennis Nyland. He’s a volunteer EMT, who spends his free time helping people access mental health services in Montana. Dennis was one of the last people we talked to before traveling to Montana. By then we felt like we basically talked to every mental health professional in the Mountain West. So we didn’t really need more sources, but several people mentioned him and we figured one more call couldn’t hurt. It started off like all the pre interviews we do with experts. What do you do? Why do you do what you do? Yada yada, yada. But then things took an unexpected turn

Dennis Nyland 

I’ll be honest with you, this is just between us right now, I guess, I don’t want to put this out there right now. But there was one moment, right of after I got to law enforcement, I have my gun in my mouth, and I almost pulled the trigger. And anything could have […] me if I would have pushed a little bit harder. That’s it.

Stephanie Wittels Wachs 

I was totally caught off guard by Dennis confessing this deeply personal private thing with me and the team. And I could hear him as he was saying it in total disbelief that it was even coming out of his mouth. We all got off the call, the team was in tears. And maybe like a day later, Dennis followed and said he wanted to share his story on the show. So we scheduled a formal interview, and Dennis came prepared.

Dennis Nyland  02:04

I got all this stuff right here. Just so I have things and it’s just bullet points just so I have. I don’t lose my, my, you know, my one eye because I know I can tell you right now. I am nervous. And I’m nervous. I’m excitedly nervous, we put it that way. So with everything that happen, I decided that it’s the right thing to do. My wife and me a matter of fact, this morning just talked about, you know, she says, you know, do what your heart leads you to do. And so, I am going to do what my heart’s led me to do and I’m going to talk about it. So that’s where I’m at.

Stephanie Wittels Wachs  02:47

Okay, so let’s start at the beginning. Dennis was a cop. He was dealing with the worst possible cases you can imagine. Have you ever seen Law and Order: Special Victims Unit? That was essentially Dennis’s life for 14 years, totally focused on child and sexual abuse cases. So yeah, he’s seen a lot of really traumatic stuff. And he was doing it without any real mental health support in place.

Dennis Nyland 

Honestly, I didn’t see what it was doing to me inside to be honest with you. I think what I did then is I just kind of pushed off to the side saying, okay, the job is you go there, you’re helping people. You see the worst of the worst sometimes. And it’s just part of how that’s part of the career. It’s part of the job. But you can only put up a friend so long and then your, your body tells you okay, your mind says okay, you see, and you’ve seen quite a bit now and it’s real.

Stephanie Wittels Wachs 

So after pouring everything into a career that had taken up so much space in his heart and soul. Dennis decided it was time for a change.

Dennis Nyland  04:01

I talked to my wife and made the decision I was gonna get out of law enforcement, needed some time just to figure out what I wanted to do. Probably within six month period of me leaving and before and after that, I finally realized I was starting to struggle.

Stephanie Wittels Wachs

Even though Dennis was leaving law enforcement for the sake of his mental health. It was a huge transition. I mean, he was suddenly waking up with so much time on his hands and no solid idea what to do with it. Routine even a sad and demoralizing one is comforting and losing that can throw everything into question. Dennis eventually found himself at a breaking point.

Dennis Nyland 

I was just really having a hard day. I can’t even remember the details of the day but I know I will probably wasn’t fun to be around. And I was so angry at the world. And it got to the point where I said, life just is not worth it anymore. And I decided I’m gonna go back to the bedroom of our house, and I’m gonna be done. Got my gun. And you know, it’s a 40 caliber weapon, firearms, you don’t get much chance, you can’t take the bullets back, right. And I made a decision at one point, I don’t know why, I put the gun in my mouth. My wife and daughter must have heard something. And they came back into the back bedroom, I had the gun in my mouth, had my finger on the trigger, which, as law enforcement officer, you never put your finger in the trigger unless you’re gonna shoot it. So I’m lucky. I’m lucky that it didn’t go off because it so easily, easily could have went off. Something happened to where I must have heard her or my daughter or the crying or whatever. And I put the gun down.

Stephanie Wittels Wachs  06:34

When we talk to Dennis, he kept mentioning the impact that this experience had on his wife and daughter who walked in to find him with a gun in his mouth. That was a horrific moment. But he can’t imagine the pain he would have caused them how he died that day. And to him, it’s so easily could have gone that way. So he feels grateful and conflicted. And the whole thing is still so complicated. Even now, he’s not totally sure how to frame the story.

Dennis Nyland 

I would never say that was a suicide survivor. I still have a hard time thinking about that. But I truly believe I guess I am. And here I am I’m second guessing myself, maybe. But it’s just because it’s a process that you know, I don’t want to be, I don’t want. I don’t want to be weak. You know, that’s another thing is stigma is people don’t want to talk about suicide, because you’re weak then. There’s people that are as myself that were living and not paying attention to what was going on with yourself. So I think I learned that boy, we all can fall into that trap. And I’d fell into that trap.

Stephanie Wittels Wachs  08:00

Over the last two seasons, our big question has been, how do you make it through a moment of crisis? And this season it specifically, how in the world do you make it through a moment of crisis when a gun is involved? It’s like we’ve heard so many times before, firearms are designed to be as lethal as possible. That’s the point, you usually don’t get a second chance when a gun is involved. So for this last episode of season three, we’re going to hear from the survivors, the ones who lived to tell their stories. I’m Stephanie Wittels Wachs. This is LAST DAY. So a few months back, I was watching John Stewart’s new show, and they were doing an episode on guns.


Worse things worse, if it wasn’t really a situation that was warranted, you lose custody of your gun for a month.  But if not, a life is saved. So how is that even in question.

April Ross 

The argument you get a lot of times if you start here with pulling back gun rights or if you take this guns away in this situation, then you just come up with another situation where you, and then another, the slippery slope.

Speaker 3 

It’s not a slippery slope. We’re already at the bottom of the hill.

Stephanie Wittels Wachs

That’s April Ross talking to John. She and fellow advocate Janet Paulsen went on the show to talk about gun violence in America. And I was totally blown away by both of them. Like Dennis, these two women had survived a terrifying moment of crisis. But in their case, the gun wasn’t in their hands. It was in the hands of their abusers. And this is a big deal that we haven’t yet addressed this season, but nearly two thirds of intimate partner homicides are with guns. Domestic violence victims are five times more likely to be killed when their abuser has access to a gun. And just in case you need one more horrific stat women in the US are 21 times more likely to be killed by a gun than women and other high income countries, 21 times. But an abusive relationship isn’t as obvious as it might seem. Even when you’re in the middle of one.

April Ross  10:31

In hindsight, you know, now that everything’s unfolded, people always kind of thought that I would have been someone who could have quote, unquote, seen it coming.

Stephanie Wittels Wachs 

That’s because April knew more than most, she’d spent years in law school helping survivors of domestic violence, secure protective orders. After graduating, she eventually landed a job as a prosecutor.

April Ross 

Around that same time, I was still dating my high school sweetheart. And shortly after me getting out of law school, we got engaged and married, our relationship was always a bit tumultuous. Not something that I recognized as abusive at the time, but probably would have called a little bit unhealthy, maybe even toxic. At the moment that he proposed to me, I’ll be honest with you, my instinct, my internal reaction was, you know, oh, shit, you know, this isn’t really what, I don’t know if I really want to, but you know, you’re kind of, you know, trained and kind of programmed as a woman that that’s what you’re supposed to strive to, getting married, having a family and settling down. And so this was, to me my best shot, and I didn’t really have probably the best self-esteem if I’m being honest, and thought that, you know, I wouldn’t really find anyone else. And even though he didn’t treat me the best, I also thought maybe the marriage could be a reset, you know, to some of the behavior that was harmful and hurtful in our dating years.

Stephanie Wittels Wachs  12:05

But things didn’t work out, like April thought they would, in fact, married life just brought on more abuse, her husband became increasingly manipulative, controlling and hurtful. And eventually, April had had enough. So in 2014, they split up.

April Ross 

That separation led me to feel like, Oh, this is, this is not a marriage, I can go back into, I really felt free and like I could breathe for the first time in a long time. And so it wasn’t long after I left him that I decided that I wanted to make it permanent and filed for divorce. I believed that, you know, even though he was displaying some alarming behaviors, ultimately that we were working out what was going to end up being an amicable divorce. We didn’t have children. The only property we owned was the house which I had agreed to give him and the joint bank account, I essentially was ready to give it all up. I just wanted to be free and to start my own path.

Stephanie Wittels Wachs 

Finally, April and her husband came to an agreement about the divorce. They went to a bank, signed all the necessary paperwork, got it notarized. And then as they were walking back to their cars, her husband announced that he had a gift for her. He handed her a paper bag.

April Ross 

What was inside was two toy plastic water guns, you know, gave me one and told me that it was up to me to you know, make the first move or essentially pull the trigger. And it was all foreshadowing of course that he wanted, you know, he was telling me and maybe a not so subtle way now looking at it that he if I filed for divorce, that you know, that would be sort of the beginning of the end.

Stephanie Wittels Wachs 

But at the time, April just shrugged it off. It didn’t feel like a genuine threat. So she filed the divorce papers as planned. A few days later, she was driving with a friend when a strange beat up car pulled up. She didn’t know it at the time. But it was her husband armed and ready to ambush.

April Ross  14:17

By the time, I recognized he was even at the window of the car. I mean you talking about a split second before the time I saw him to the moment he was raising the gun. And I’ll tell you probably the only reason I’m alive and the only reason that I was shot three times is because the passenger in my car who someone I’ve known for, I had known for a while, turned his body and blocked and he was shot six times. But I was shot in the face and the bullet went through my jaw and I was also shot in the right forearm and then I think I kind of slumped forward and then the third shot went into my back and hit me in the vertebrae up near my neck, which left me paralyzed from the chest down.

Stephanie Wittels Wachs 

A few hours later April’s husband was found. He had died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. I don’t think April ever could have imagined their story ending this way. Even with all the red flags, it didn’t look the way abusive relationships are typically portrayed. And because she wasn’t sure if it was bad enough, she stayed and tried to make it work. But even though it didn’t start with physical abuse, it culminated in unspeakable violence. So today, she’s working to redefine abuse, so that people can identify the signs and get help earlier. But she isn’t doing this work alone. After the break, we meet Janet, the woman who’s joining her in the fight.

Janet Paulsen  16:12

I was married for 15 years. And the last five years of the marriage. He was kind of spiraling out of control.

Stephanie Wittels Wachs 

This is Janet Paulsen. She lives in Acworth Georgia, about an hour north of Atlanta. She’s the mom of two twin boys who both play college baseball today. During the last five years of our marriage, her husband Scott started dealing with some significant mental health and addiction issues. He didn’t get help. And he took a lot of it out on Janet.

Janet Paulsen 

I wasn’t physically abused. It was social abuse. It was emotional abuse. He was just flat out mean. And as his alcohol consumption increased. It just got off the chain. I never knew what is he going to do next kind of thing.

Stephanie Wittels Wachs

And Scott’s behavior just got more and more erratic.

Janet Paulsen 

My boys, they’re twins. They were 13 at the time, and they came to me and they said, Mom, he’s drinking with us in the back of the truck. I was like, what? So he would pick them up from football practice. And he would go and get a bunch of beers. And you would park in the graveyard by my house and drink those beers with my children in the back of the car in the dark. And he threatened them. If you tell your mom or else. And when they came and told me that I was like, This is it. I tried to get him into counseling. I tried to get him into rehab. You know, I just wanted out. And I was willing to leave everything behind. But when I went to him and I said, look, you know, this is going on for a long time. You’re not happy, I’m not happy. It’s time for us to you know, talk about getting a divorce. He kind of leaning back in his chair, and he looked at me and he goes, why don’t you go upstairs and try and take the boys and see what happens to you. And it was like, why are you saying that, stop. I’m not trying to take them from you. We can do joint custody. You know, Chris, you’re scaring me.

Stephanie Wittels Wachs  18:22

Janet kept trying to de-escalate the situation because Scott was getting desperate. And she knew he was armed.

Janet Paulsen 

He was a gun enthusiast. And he had, you know, a lot of firearms in my home that had concerned me and I had actually snuck down to his gun safes, and I taking pictures of all the firearms and the gun safes. I was trying to change the combination, so it couldn’t get into it. But I couldn’t figure out how to do it. But anyway, he ended up leaving that night. And he called my parents. And he told my father that if I thought I was going to divorce him, I had another thing come in, and he was going to kill me. So I picked up my children from school, and I called some of my girlfriends, and I said I need you to meet me at the police department. I have to file a police report. And I’ll never forget the police officer that took my report. He said, well, all right. I’ll take this report. Let me tell you how this is gonna go down. He said you’re gonna come in here tomorrow, crying and you’ve made up and you’re gonna want me to tear it up. I said, sir, you don’t understand. I’m not going home. I am going to a hotel. We are way past that point.

Stephanie Wittels Wachs 

My god. And we wonder why so much domestic violence goes unreported in this country. Janet was in danger. There was no way that she would willingly go back to where her husband and his mini guns could get to her. So Janet went to a hotel, and her two boys went to stay with a friend. By now, she had done everything in her power to protect herself and her family. She had filed the right report, got the right legal counsel, she alerted the kids teachers about what was going on, and even asked them to not let Scott pick them up from school. And all the while he continued to bombard her with threatening phone calls.

Janet Paulsen  20:32

So my local police department and my attorney advised me to get a protective order. In Georgia, it’s a TPO. It’s a temporary protective order. It’s issued in an emergency. So I had to go in front of a family judge, plead my case, I had brought all those pictures of this firearms, I gave them the locations of them. I had all the police reports with me and it was granted.

Stephanie Wittels Wachs 

A temporary protective order was just that, temporary, but it gave her some semblance of safety. Unfortunately, that was short lived.

Janet Paulsen

He violated the protective order the very next day by putting us under surveillance, he activated a tracking app on my phone, and in my children’s phone.

Stephanie Wittels Wachs 

So Janet went to her advocate at the sheriff’s department who filed a felony TPO violation. This basically means Scott violated the temporary protective order. So now he’d be placed in jail until their court date. But the request was ultimately denied. The judge said there was no way to prove Scott had set up the surveillance. Maybe it was someone else using his phone, cuz that fucking happens all the time. So once again, Janet was left to fend for herself. And while all of this was happening, she was also doing everything in her power to get Scott’s guns out of the house. This was a big project because he had 75 of them, 75, she managed to get 74 locked away in a safe until the sheriff’s department could come pick them up. But there was still one left.

Janet Paulsen  22:13

And I said well, what about the one in his truck? Because he always carried in his vehicle and on his person. And she said, well, I can’t really get that one. It’s gray area. And I said ma’am, that TPO covers my entire property. That truck is sitting in my driveway. In my county, which unlike most counties in Georgia, there is a box that can be checked on the TPO that stipulates that they are to confiscate all his firearms. Okay, that was checked in my case. But she let him leave with the one in his truck. And he shot me with it five days later.

Stephanie Wittels Wachs 

After the break, Janet walks us through that horrific day. We’re back with Janet Paulsen. It’s October 30th 2015. Janet’s won her case for a temporary protective order against Scott. And the sheriff’s office that issued that TPO has just confiscated the 74 guns in their home. But let him drive away with the one in his truck.

Janet Paulsen 

I went back to my local police department to say hey, he violated the protective order. I don’t know if you guys know. But here’s the deal. And a police officer said hold this piece of paper and he gave me a piece of paper and I’m holding like this. And he took his pen and he jabbed it through the paper while I was holding it. And he said that paper is your TPO and this pen is a bullet. You need to arm yourself. We’re really worried about this guy.

Stephanie Wittels Wachs  24:04

It is horrifying. How many times this system failed Janet. Once again. They were putting the responsibility back on her. So she followed the officers advice and armed up.

Janet Paulsen 

So, Thursday, November 5th 2015. I marched right back to the same courthouse that I got that TPO and I applied for a concealed carry permit.

Stephanie Wittels Wachs 

Immediately after leaving the courthouse that day. She stopped by the grocery store and then headed back home. Oh and by the way, Janet was back at the house which felt a little safer now that the guns work on.

Janet Paulsen 

I think I pulled in around 6:45 and when I pulled my car into the garage, I went to hit the button for the grace to come back down behind me and I saw it kind of kick up and I thought, well, that’s weird. And so I go to get out the car and I looked in my sideview mirror. And he had snuck in the garage when I opened the door, and he was leaning against the garage wall, three feet from me, and he was cocking a gun. And I was like, oh, my God, get out of this car, you’re dead. Get out of this garage. So I slammed my head down, I put that car in reverse. And I hit the gas as hard as I could. And I busted through the garage door because it was still in the process of coming back down behind me. I was trying to get to the street and get away. But because I wasn’t looking, I was so scared. He was going to shoot me in the head. I hit a tree in my neighbor’s yard, and it blew out my back window. And I look up and here he is walking down the driveway. You know, with that gun pointed at me, I’m like, oh, my God get away from this […] get to the street or you know, you’re dead. And so I went to just go forward a little bit, but I hit the gas too hard, because I was just hysterical, instead of […] back over my driveway, and I smashed into a bunch of trees on the side of my house. And it was kind of on an incline. And look in here he is just a couple of feet from my driver’s side window with that gun, and somehow I got that passenger side door open, I tumbled out and I started running through the woods screaming for help, I heard pop, pop, pop, and I felt stinging in my abdomen. And I knew I’d been shot and I was like this inner voice was like, you’re not gonna make it, through these woods, you’re gonna have to try and get to the neighbor’s house. So I tried to like, run back up that embankment across my driveway to get to the neighbor’s house and he shot me in the leg. And I kept going, and then he shot me again. And I fell over in the middle of my driveway. Meanwhile, what I didn’t know was that all my neighbors were on 911 and watching this from their houses.

Janet Paulsen 

So when I fell over in the driveway, I saw him come to the edge of the driveway, maybe two feet from me. And I watched him shoot me two more times. And the last shot I knew hit my spinal cord because I felt this jolt of electricity go through my body. I mean, I knew immediately I was paralyzed. And I just kept talking to myself like, okay, this is okay. You can live in a wheelchair, that’s no big deal. Just do what you have to do to survive. And he walked over to me and he stood over me. And I just held my hand up to block his face. Because I didn’t want that to be the last thing I had to see if he was going to shoot me again. And I just said like, don’t shoot me anymore. I’m dying. And he said, watch this. And he cock the gun. He put it to his head and he pulled the trigger. But it clicked because he had used all the ammunition and the clip firing at me. Little did I know he was going to reload. I saw him coming back up their driveway. And I was like please God, please do not let him come back over here to me. Please don’t come back over here to me. And instead he wouldn’t lay down a couple feet from me and I heard a gunshot, he shot himself in the chest.

Stephanie Wittels Wachs 

But Scott didn’t die right away. When the paramedics finally arrived, they loaded Janet into one ambulance and Scott into another, directly behind hers.

Janet Paulsen 

And I just remember telling myself with this paramedics, you do everything that these guys tell you to do. Stay away, do with these guys till they do and they would say Janet, we’re 10 minutes out and I repeat it back to myself. Okay 10 minutes I can do that. I can do 10 minutes. Janet, we’re five minutes, five minutes, I can do that. I can hang up by more minutes. And I was thinking about my children and I was like no, this is not happening. And I remember what happened after that. I woke up three and a half weeks later from a coma. He had shattered my right femur; he shattered my left knee. I have a through and through on my thigh. I have a through and through on my abdomen. He took out a third of my right lung. And the last one hit my L2 vertebrae. So I have an incomplete spinal cord injury.

Stephanie Wittels Wachs  30:34

The spinal cord injury like April’s left her in a wheelchair for the rest of her life. Scott died at the hospital shortly after surgery. Janet was there recovering for six weeks until she was transferred to the Shepherd Rehabilitation Center.

Janet Paulsen 

And I told my dad like Dad, you got to find those paramedics and tell them that I made it. And a couple days later, I see them on my floor at Shepherd and they were like crying. They were like, oh my god, we cannot believe you are I mean; I’ll be bobbing around in a wheelchair because we’ve been taught to shepherd. And they were like we thought you’d still be hooked up to tubes and you know, this, and they started crying. And they told me, there were about six of them. They said, […] that is critical as you that made it, when we got you there, you had lost so much blood you were DOA. So your trauma surgeon took a tool, jammed it between your ribs, cranked it to get access to you heart, he clamp my aorta. He shocked it with electrodes. And then he massage my heart in his hand and it started back.

Stephanie Wittels Wachs 

Oh my God.

Janet Paulsen 

Now this trauma surgeon is my hero. How do you thank someone for saving your life? But I saw him and he was just so thrilled and pleased. Like oh my god, Janet, you are a miracle, you know, out of 100 times, we try and see someone doing that procedure. It works once. So I thought about 100 people standing in a circle holding hands look at each other, like who’s it gonna be? And it was me.

Stephanie Wittels Wachs  32:29

This is an incredibly heartwarming story about a patient and the doctor who saved her life. But a miracle shouldn’t be your best bet for survival. There are so many moments in Janet and April’s story where things could have ended differently for them and their husbands. These aren’t just stories of domestic abuse, they’re suicide stories, and they exemplify so much of what we’ve covered this season. Both of these men were dealing with untreated mental illness. Janet’s husband was struggling with alcoholism. Both were experiencing huge transitions and relationship issues which are major risk factors for suicide, and neither had any coping skills or access to mental health resources. And this terrible combination of risk factors plus easy access to guns made these men lethal to their partners and themselves. And part of what makes all of this truly unfair is that these stories could have gone a completely different way had Janet and April lived in a different state. Because that is how gun laws work in America, like Georgia is one of the few states that does not comply with federal laws when it comes to domestic abuse. You can be charged with a domestic violence misdemeanor or have an active protective order against you and still keep your guns in Georgia. Janet happens to live in a county that will remove firearms if noted on your TPO but you heard her story. When you’re in a state that doesn’t take the law seriously, your local sheriff might not either, they might just let your abuser drive off with one in his truck. And that same sheriff’s office might try to solve an existing gun problem with more guns. Remember, Janet applied for a concealed carry permit because a police officer suggested that would be the only way to keep her and her family safe.

Janet Paulsen  34:30

I got that concealed carry permit came in the mail when I was in a coma nine days later fighting for my life. That’s not the answer. But that’s how scared I was. And I’m sorry, but I cannot accept that. Your odds of staying safe depend on how good of a shot you are.

Stephanie Wittels Wachs 

And trying to fight fire with fire isn’t just dangerous. It’s also totally impractical. Here’s April again.

April Ross 

I would, you know, not only have to know and have some experience to handling firearm, but I have to be ready to work under almost military like you know circumstances with the amount of pressure and precision you would need to survive. And so to say that the answer is you just need to arm yourself you’re not speaking from a place of reality.

Stephanie Wittels Wachs 

These days, I’m hearing a lot of solutions that don’t seem to be steeped in reality. The way to solve gun violence is more guns. CEO of the NRA, Wayne LaPierre famously said one thing a violent rapist deserves to face is a good woman with a gun, which is a real twisted spin on the whole good guy with a gun argument. The answer to domestic abuse arm women the answer to school shootings, arm teachers, and these ideas are actually getting traction, they are being baked into legislation. Republicans in Ohio just sent a bill to the governor that would allow teachers to carry a gun in the classroom in a time where guns are now the leading cause of death for children. That is reality. You know, we started this season determined to figure out how we can make people safer in a country with so many guns. And after a year of pounding the pavement with a string of particularly horrific headlines over the past few weeks, we know it is possible. For Janet, her call to action came from a hospital bed in the shepherd rehabilitation center. April wheeled into her room one day, introduced herself as a peer support advisor. And during that first visit, asked if Janet would join her in advocating for domestic violence victims. She didn’t know exactly how they would do it. But she felt like they had to do something.

Janet Paulsen 

When April came to see me and she was like, do you want to get on board with this? I was like, absolutely, I owe it. I owe it to the ones that didn’t make it.

Stephanie Wittels Wachs 

We all owe it to the ones who didn’t make it. But we also owe it to every survivor. That includes Janet and April and Dennis, who beat the odds and lift. It also includes all of the other survivors we met this season. The parents who lost their children to firearm suicides and homicides, the people who are living with the trauma of being shot entire neighborhoods that have been hollowed out and devastated by rampant gun violence. We owe it to all of them. And yes, it’s going to take a lot of time and uncomfortable conversations. And it’s going to take everyone gun lovers and gun haters alike. We each have our reasons to come to the table. And we can bring all of our biases with us as long as we’re willing to start from a place of reality and agree that the senseless gun violence has got to stop.


LAST DAY is a production of Lemonada Media. Jackie Danziger is our supervising producer. Our producers are Kegan Zema and Giulia Hjort. Hannah Boomershine and Erianna Jiles are our associate producers. Music is by Hannis Brown. Executive Producers are Jessica Cordova Kramer and me Stephanie Wittels Wachs. We are thrilled to partner this season with the Candida Foundation, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Pritzker Pucker Family Foundation, Levi Strauss and Co, and Everytown for Gun Safety. You can find more mental health and legal arms restrictions resources along with info about some of the voices on the show in the show notes and at If you want to hear more LAST DAY, we have two whole other seasons. Please go listen to them wherever you’re listening right now. And while you’re there, I implore you to take a moment to rate review and subscribe. It is the number one way that you can help the show. Join our Facebook group to connect with me and fellow LAST DAY listeners at You can find us on all social platforms at @LemonadaMedia. And you can find me at @wittelstephanie. You can also get bonus content and behind the scenes material by subscribing to Lemonada Premium on Apple podcasts. I’m Stephanie Wittels Wachs. See you next week.

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