Want to honor the victims of gun violence? Do your part to help make sure there aren’t any more | Opinion

February 5, 2020 6:30 am

Gov. Tom Wolf leads an Aug. 7, 2019 rally against gun violence in the Capitol rotunda. (Photo by PA Internet News Service)

By Gina Pelusi

By the first week of February each year, more Americans are killed with guns than are killed in other high-income nations in an entire year. 

That does not account for the millions more who are shot and wounded, threatened with a gun, or witness an act of gun violence.

Our gun death rate is 10 times greater than that of our peer countries.  As Americans, we are now a nation of survivors. Fifty-eight percent of American adults or someone they care for have personally experienced gun violence in their lifetimes, and gun violence is the second leading cause of death for children and teens in America according to a study from Everytown for Gun Safety.    

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We all want to keep our families safe. I knew that gun violence was a large problem in this country, but never believed it could affect me personally. 

On Feb. 6, 2014, a stranger knocked on the door of my parents’ home. My mother answered the door and he opened fire, shooting her multiple times.  He was a convicted felon who by law should have never had access to a weapon. My mother died later that afternoon and my life was changed forever.  I would have never imagined that something like this would happen to my family, especially my mother, who devoted her life to teaching music to children.

I share my story of what happened that day and the pain and grief I’ve suffered to advocate for and enact change.  I share my story with communities and legislators so they understand that behind these statistics are real people.

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I share my story to motivate people to keep fighting for common sense solutions to prevent gun violence, like a background check on all gun sales, which is supported by 92 percent of Americans, according to a 2018 Gallup poll. 

I share my story because I refuse to accept that it’s normal that 100 Americans are killed every day in this country. And I share my story to honor my mom, Ruthanne Giammittorio Lodato, who was the toughest woman I know.       

On Monday, gun violence survivors from across Pennsylvania gathered in the state Capitol Rotunda and shared their stories of how gun violence has impacted their lives. 

Don’t just thank them for using their voices, get off the sidelines and join them in this fight to combat gun violence in all its forms. Text “READY” to 644-33 to join the movement for common sense gun safety.

Gina Pelusi is an Everytown for Gun Safety Survivor Fellow

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