I met Jamie on the bus to the Women’s March in DC in 2017. She lost her brother to gun violence over 20 years ago. She’s been fighting this fight a long time.
“A gun in the hands of a criminal with vengeance in his heart took my brother’s life swiftly and violently. The shock and the horror were unimaginable. It was hard to believe that it wasn’t a nightmare that I would awaken from. I was praying it was so. I literally had to touch hard surfaces around me to make sure I was awake. For many months to follow the only peace I had were the first few seconds of each day when I opened my eyes and for one brief flash forgot what had happened. When the realization hit – it hurt me every morning – again and again.”
– Jamie Checkett McLaughlin
Gun Violence Prevention – How to Get Involved
(reprinted with permission from Jamie Checklett McLaughlin)
Even though I was personally devastated by gun violence with the murder of my brother Chet in 1992, I did not become involved in activism until the massacre of 26 souls at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT (2012). The hole in my heart grew that much larger, and I finally found my “voice” the next day with the help of Moms Demand Action when they called and asked me to be a “Face of Courage” and share my story. It was the first time I had written down my experience and it was intimidating and cathartic at the same time. My story:
My mother Carol has been a gun violence prevention (GVP) activist since my brother was murdered and she has never stopped. She is my hero! Mom has marched and made appearances with former NYC Mayor Bloomberg and Donna Dees Thomases (founder of the Million Mom March, a rally in Washington on Mother’s Day, 2000). Donna is now a friend and a role model. She is a fierce force in the GVP movement and organizer extraordinaire!
Concert Across America to End Gun Violence is Donna’s latest project. For the first time ever, concerts were held on 9/25/16, the congressionally designated day to remember victims of gun violence (2 out of 3 are murdered with a firearm). It was a huge success with 5,225 performers banding together nationwide. My sister and I attended the concert at The Beacon Theater. Jackson Browne was the MC. This year is it will be held on 9/24/17. http://concertacrossamerica.org/
I am a member of Moms Demand Action http://momsdemandaction.org/ (originally 1 Million Moms for Gun Control). This was wisely renamed in that the word control is a negative “trigger” for gun enthusiasts and NRA supporters. This group was founded the day after the massacre at Sandy Hook.
My husband and I joined the March for Change on February 14th, 2013 (on the Newtown 2-month anniversary) on the steps of the Capital building in Hartford. This group made a real difference very quickly. CT passed real reform in the aftermath of this rally (Senator Chris Murphy is a true champion). Almost 5,000 people met at the capital that day. It was very emotional and invigorating.
I am a member of Americans for Responsible Solutions (ARS) – founded by Gabby & Mark Giffords. As a victim, Gabby is courageous and strong. I believe they are a strong rival to the NRA in garnering much need financial support to combat the NRA’s grip and hold. Giffords.org
Nicola “Nico” Bocour, email@example.com has been a good resource to me for victim services, and is now the State Legislative Manager for ARS. In her new role, she manages legislation and gun violence prevention policy in a number of states including NJ. Nico was previously on the board of NYAGV (involved in their reAction program in the NYC Public Schools and also the Policy and Communications Director of Ceasefire NJ. She is Montclair resident (and now also a resident of Washington DC) and a Seton Hall Law Graduate. She helped me to provide resources to the Tevlin family after their son Brendan was killed in West Orange.
We Are Newtown/Newtown Memorial Fund continues to raise funds for a memorial scholarship fund.
NEWTOWN. This amazing film is available for private screenings. http://newtownfilm.com/
Sandy Hook Promise, Led by several family members whose loved ones were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary approaches this movement from a preventive angle in developing and delivering mental health and wellness programs to help at-risk individuals. http://www.sandyhookpromise.org/