This week on Real Life Momz, we discuss the sensitive topic of gun violence in America. We are honored to speak with Jenny Guenther - mother of two tweens, a Pediatric Physical Therapist, and a Moms Demand Action volunteer.
Jenny shares the reality and frightening statistics of gun violence toward children and discusses current and pending “gun sense laws.” Most of all, Jenny shares how even one person can make a difference to help keep our loved ones safe and how she and so many other parents are getting involved to support necessary legislation for change.
Join us on our Facebook group at facebook.com/groups/reallifemomz/, so we continue to band together in the fight against gun violence.
Moms Demands Action: https://momsdemandaction.org/
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Welcome to Real Life Momz, I'm your host, Lisa Foster and Real Life Momz is a podcast that's all about moms having real conversations, sharing resources, and telling their inspiring stories. Our mission is to connect moms by talking about these topics that parents deal with every day and to continue these conversations in our Real Life Momz Facebook group, where we would love for you to become part of our community. Today I invited Jenny Guenther, mother of two kids, a pediatric physical therapist, and a volunteer with Moms Demand Action for the past four years to help discuss and educate us on an extremely important topic that has been top of mind keeping our families and loved ones safe. And that is gun violence in the US.
Hi Jenny, welcome to REal Life Momz, and today we're going to discuss the topic that probably has been long overdue and it's right now top of mind for most people and parents, and that is gun violence in the US.
Hi Lisa, thank you so much for having me. And I'm honored to talk about this important topic.
Yeah. And I am truly thankful that you want to have this conversation because it is a big one. And I just know that you have so many facts and you have great insight and some resources for parents that are looking for resources. So, I'm really thankful that you're willing to come on and actually talk about this topic with us.
Yes, of course.
So Jenny, maybe start with just a little bit about you and how you even became involved in this.
I'm a mom, I have two kids right now, a daughter who's 13 and a son who's 10. I'm a pediatric physical therapist, which that's how we met really. You know, if I think back, I often describe myself as not really being political. I would say things like, I kind of thought I was being polite. I didn't think we really needed to talk about politics and I kind of had to change. And I would say looking back, it was, it was probably back after the election in 2016. I started to realize that, you know, I don't necessarily think I was being polite.
I think I was being privileged and I honestly think politics is life. There isn't anything in our lives that isn't political and being able to really not care about politics or not be involved, I think really is a privilege to not have to care.
So I also, have a great role model and my mom, my mom is an activist. She is involved. She has been involved for many, many years. Um, I think I kind of quietly watched all the things she was doing. She's run for office. Um, she's now actually on a school board, she was elected to a school board and it was like secretly rubbing off, but not really realizing it. Um, right. And so it took me a little bit longer, but yeah, I would say that that's kind of when I started to pay more attention, get more involved and start listening.
And I can totally relate to that because I like to say instead of privileged I think I am more naive, you know, but I love the way you say privilege because that is now thinking about that. That is true. It's like I never was very political. Um, I kind of stayed away from all that. I also felt very much like what could I do. I'm one person I don't know much. So I really feel like mine was more naive, but you, you definitely got involved. So tell us like what switched with that.
Yeah. So I've gotten involved in a lot of areas but I think we're kind of talking about gun violence right now. So I'd say it was back in 2018. When I really had my enough is enough moment where I felt like I needed to do something more than just, you know, talk to my friends or to my husband about the fears that I had about gun violence. And I had heard of an organization called Moms Demand Action from, some friends from out of state who are members. And I just decided, I remember one morning waking up and I just kind of Googled Moms Demand Action and looked for any meetings that were in my area and it was after the Parkland shooting.
And so there were lots of meetings popping up and I did, I just grabbed a few friends of mine and I grabbed my own mom also.
And we went to our first meeting and really heard about what Moms Demand Action is, which I'll tell you about. Um, and I just realized like this, this is what I want to do. These are my people, these are moms, these are, um, other, you know, you don't have to be a mom which I'll tell you about, but it's really people that just want to boots on the ground, volunteer and make change and get something done. So, I've gone from just going to the meetings and listening and kind of doing some of the things I learned there. And now I'm a team leader in our, uh, co lead for our Douglas county group here.
So I am helping to lead the meetings and really gather people to come together. So some background for listeners, if they haven't heard of Moms Demand Action before I'll give just a little background on them.
But Moms Demand Action was founded back in 2012 after the Sandy Hook shooting. So it was founded by Shannon Watson. Shannon was a stay-at-home mom at the time. Um, and she had her, I would say enough is enough moment like I was talking about. And she decided she wanted to look for something that was similar to MAD, which is mothers against drunk driving something similar to that for, um, gun violence prevention. And she couldn't find anything. And so she tells the story that she started with her own Facebook group of maybe 60 ish people. Um, and if you fast forward now going on 10 years, they are, there are close to 8 million supporters nationwide.
So she's a mom, she's one person like we were just talking about one person, one person do what can one mom do? And, um, yeah, now she has supporters, uh, nationwide. There are organizations in all 50 states, it's really grassroots. We work under the, every town for gun safety. They are their research co um, branch of Moms Demand Action. So Moms Demand Action really is the volunteers. And then the, everytown does the research and, raises money to help with some of the things that need to be done.
Yeah. That's, kind of a background of how it was founded.
Let's talk a little bit about just, why do you feel gun violence, in general, is such a big problem in the US compared to maybe other countries?
Oh, well, I think that's a good question, because I do think it's important to have kind of some understanding of some of the statistics that, that sets America apart from some of the other countries. And when I talk about other countries too, we really are doing comparative to countries that are similar economics status to America. And a lot of this, the statistics I'll give come from the, everytown for gun safety research. And if you do go to their website, all of the data is linked to research and the sources are all there. So I'm just going to give you a few, like things that stand out to me, and really every day in America, there are more than 110 Americans who are killed with guns.
That's over 40,000 Americans a year. That is a huge number. And really when I started working with moms back four years ago, the numbers were less.
It keeps going up and up. When we hand out pamphlets or flyers, we have to keep redoing them because the numbers keep going up. And if you think about the number of guns we have in this country compared to other countries, another thing, I think that's important as we talk about the number of deaths in our country, but also the number of people that are wounded. So it's over 84,000. I believe that people are wounded. And that's part of, you know, me working at a pediatric hospital. I see kids who are wounded by guns. Um, a lot, I would say this past year, it's more in my 20-year career that I've seen.
And it's, it's life-changing life altering injuries, lots of spinal cord injuries, young kids, teenagers,.
And these injuries. Are they within home guns that they just get a handle on or within?
Yeah. So that's really good that you asked that because the statistics that stands out and I'll give you more is right now, firearms are the leading cause of death for American children and teens. So if you really think about it, the number one cause of children in our country in America, um, is firearms. That's more than car accidents. That's more than cancer. That's more than, you know, other injuries. It's, it's from firearms. And really if you're under the age of 13, most of these deaths frequently occur in the home.
So a lot of times it's access to a gun within the home that is, you know, leading to these injuries and or death.
Are these accidental or are these,.
Yeah, so I think both. So we like to use the word unintentional and send it back to dental. And it's really just a slight, you know, catch on the word because we do think it could be prevented, right? A lot of these deaths. So some of them, right, if it is access, getting access, that is an unintentional death, it's not an accident, right? You could, you could prevent it. Um, a lot of these I'd say are more homicides than, than unintentional, but the unintentional deaths are as more people have guns in their home that aren't secured.
And we're talking about a lot of the awful facts right now. And I think when we're done, I can give you maybe a little bit of positive and some laws, gun safety laws that we have passed to make things safer. So, um, I think if we get through yet some of these statistics, and then, um, I'll talk about some of the things that are being done, because I think, you know, I was thinking before I talked to you today, like, how am I feeling?
And I think I'm simultaneously feeling like at all times, I'm furious, I'm angry, I'm sad, I'm horrified. And these are really hard things to feel at all times. But I do have a little bit of hope that that change can come. Um, because things have changed. Um, you know, Shannon Watts likes to say that many people say nothing's changed since Sandy hook and, and while on the federal level, and I will give, there is an update on that as well, but like just came through my phone today.
Nothing has been done since Sandy Hook, lots of things have been happening at the local levels and the, state levels. So some things are happening so we can, we can get into that.
Stay tuned because there'll be some positives in the end, but we're going to go through not so positive. Yeah.
Yes. Right. Cause I was looking at all these things and it is, and you're, I think what you were saying that of what sets America apart from other countries. So US gun homicide is 26 times that, of other high income countries. So if we're comparing again, high-income countries similar to America at 26 times that, so, um, another kind of a quote I don't want to use as my own that Shannon has said if, if access to guns made us safer, you're we should be the safest nation.
And clearly we are not, I believe we have enough guns in this country for every person to have one. So in the US right now, we have close to 400 million weapons firearms. And if you think about that, we have 330 million, these are approximate people in this country. So there are, we have, you know, more guns. Yes.
Yeah. Oh my goodness.
Um, again, like I said, if more guns made us safer we should be the safest and I think, yes, I think gun violence is an and problem, right? It is, um, a lot of people will say, well, we have a mental health problem in this country. Okay. And so do other countries, right? So do other countries, they have mental health problems. It's video games. Correct. And how many other countries have video games? All of the things we can say, you know, leads to our gun violence problem.
The other countries have as well, but the other countries don't have as the number of guns we have and the lax gun laws that we have. So, you know, there's the and I really like to say and okay, I can bring up the other things. I'm not going to negate the other things. And if you think the other things are important, okay. Then you go work on that and show me what you're doing, you know, to improve the mental health, um, access to mental health care in our country. I'm not going to tell you that's not important, but what I'm going to say is I think, um, access to guns is also important and that's why I'm talking today.
And I think it's important. Yeah.
Um, what are other countries laws, if you know this, that we don't have any place.
So I will not say that I know exactly what it is, but I know we talked about right in Australia. Um, and in New Zealand, when they had a mass shooting I believe it was Australia's mass shooting that they put in tons of gun safety measures and they haven't had another major mass shooting.
I do have a friend from Australia and she had once said to me, she goes, oh yeah, we had one shooting. And that was it. Guns were like, I don't know if they were taken away, but she goes, we're not allowed to have guns, you know, like, that's it. And that was her perspective at least of what happened. And you know, obviously there's still violence, but it's not gun violence. So, yeah.
Exactly. Um, and I think there are lots of myths out there, um, about guns and that's what makes it so tricky when you're having, um, when you're talking to someone maybe who doesn't side the same way or talks, you know, I'm pro second amendment. And I didn't say this earlier, but the work that I do and with Moms Demand Action, it's a non-partisan organization. So it really isn't that you have to be a Democrat or Republican. Now do more Democrats lean towards the gun safety laws we want prevented.
Yes. But, uh, does that mean that Republicans can't absolutely not. Can there be Republicans within the group? Absolutely. Um, and we really aren't, anti-gun, we're anti-gun violence, right? So we're wanting to prevent the gun violence. I think the words we use are really important as well. So we really don't use gun control. I think that word gun control has been kind of hijacked by the, um, people who think that we're just trying to take everyone's guns away. We're trying to control you. Um, we're trying to save lives, trying to prevent gun violence.
We're trying to improve gun safety. And it might sound like semantics, but I do think it's important to use, to use those words when we're talking about what we want to do.
And I have gone to some meetings as well at a chapter out here. And what I found is a lot of members, you know, do have guns. So they are not against guns. They own guns, but they want to be safe with them. Yeah.
Yeah, exactly. And I think some of the myths that people say is that everyone already has, you know, there are background check laws, right. Everyone has access to a background check and really this isn't true, the federal law right now says it only requires licensed dealers to do a background check. So that means there are millions of guns exchange at gun shows online non-licensed dealers, where people can access guns without background checks and different states. So I think again, knowing just the nuances, the laws is really important when you have a conversation with someone, because I think some people you're going to talk to and there's going to be no change in their minds.
And that's okay if there is, I think there are certain people where we don't need to spend our time and energy, but there are other people that I think if you do have these talks and have the facts behind you, um, it can help.
There's a common thing. People will say, well, what about Chicago? Chicago has a huge, gun violence problem. And Chicago, you know, does have some of the tightest gun regulations. There are, but really dates are only as safe as their neighboring state's laws. Right? So, so many of the guns found in the crime that are in Chicago can be traced back to states with weaker gun laws. As I'm seeing this, I want to say two things. Cause it's making me think of what I learned when I went to my first Moms Demand Action meeting was really how important the local and state laws and elections are.
So when I went to my first meeting, I remember they asked me, uh, who is your state Senator? And who's your state representative? And I remember said, oh yes, uh, Corey Gardner Michael Bennett.
And they're like, okay, those are your like federal senators, but who is your state Senator? And I realized, I mean, even with all the work my mom's done, I did not know their names. I don't think I even realized how important they are, So at the Colorado state Capitol, who is representing me at the state house and then also even more locally, like who are my county commissioners in Douglas county, who's on my school board in Douglas county. You know, what kind of things do they believe in?https://openstates.org/find_your_legislator/and you can put your address in and they will give you all the information about who's representing you right now.
And I think, it can be really eye-opening and you can see all the bills that they sponsor and it not be just guns, but other things that are important to you and kind of see who's, who's at our Colorado state Capitol.
So just educating yourself, going to this website and your address, and getting who is representing you is important. Yeah.
Yeah. And in our Colorado state Capitol, Lisa, it is actually really accessible. You can go, you can have meetings, you can meet with your representatives. You can listen in if they're having any hearings on any bills you can testify. Um, it might sound overwhelming at first. I think you can start with, you know, finding out who your representative is, and maybe sending an email and then, you know, getting a little bit braver, making a phone call. And then if the bill went, allows these gun safety bills that come up and I can talk about what Colorado has done, um, you can testify, you can tell your story and, and, and your stories are impactful.
And when we say, what can we do as just one person, one person can make a difference.
And I didn't realize, um, cause you had told me about the Capitol. And I think I went to sit in on a, just a meeting. I don't remember exactly what was going on at the time have in this school. And I was amazed at, how much information was there that I had no idea how just a normal person could go on one of these and be present. And even just sitting in there to show support alone, I felt like I was helping and making a difference. So I was so surprised that was even a thing. I just want to stop you because there is so much information I want to know.
Um, let's talk a little bit about these laws, right? Yeah. Just in general, what laws are already in place and then maybe progressing that to what bills are waiting to be passed, I guess, within our state, since you know that.
So that's good. So I'll talk about Colorado and Colorado does have some good, um, gun safety laws that we've passed. I think there are many more we can pass, but we have done some good work in the past several years after, um, the Aurora theater shooting back in 2013. Um, many gun safety laws were passed. What's interesting about that is, after the majority Democrats passed those laws, several legislators were then, um, put up to be recalled because people got so upset about it. So I think this is interesting to talk about, cause that was back in 2013.
Um, and it really, I think the pendulum is shifting because we are now able to talk about these gun safety laws without as much worry as much because I don't think it's all the way there for legislators to get recalled because of being brave and voting like they need to, but it is important for us to, to support our legislators who are making these important decisions.
Some of the laws back then were the background checks, expanding our background checks in the state of Colorado, which is, is really great statewide. This is what we're kind of pushing towards at the federal level, which I can talk more about that just last year after. I mean, we have so many after the King Soopers shooting, um, there were six laws that were passed and a few to touch upon that I think are our most important one was a safe storage bill. So, um, a secure storage is what it's called.
And we had talked about that earlier. How firearms are the leading cause of death for, you know, American children and some of those are unintentional shootings. And so one of the bills is to be sure that if you have firearms in your home and you have children or anyone in your home that should not legally have access to firearms, that they be securely stored. And I kind of tend to think it sounds like common sense, but, um, it's, it's now a law that last have it secured in a manner that a child would not a child or anyone, a teenager or anyone who's not legally able to have access to a gun could not get to.
And do you want to expand what that might be for those that are listening, that maybe he has a gun that is not necessarily safe?
Um, I think the main thing is that it is, it is locked up and it's not accessible, um to a Child.
Yes. And then we also, so this one I think is really important because they pass it last year. And I honestly didn't even know it was a law at the time, but to lift the ban on local government, uh, passing stricter gun laws than the actual state of Colorado. So it used to be a ban. So whatever the state of Colorado had as far as the laws, a local ordinance could not pass the Ban stricter. Well, that ban has gone. And that actually Lisa, you live in Boulder county. I don't know how much you've been paying attention.
Just last week, right? Louisville city councils passed a whole plethora of ordinances, gun safety ordinances, including banning the possession and sale of assault weapons, um, and including large-capacity magazines, prohibiting open carry in some areas, um, putting a waiting period, and Colorado, our state does not have a waiting period law, and this is something I'm actually very passionate about. Um, but so these local counties are now doing this. And I, again, like I spoke to earlier, it's not the end-all answer because you can, you can go to another county, right.
To get a gun. You can go to another state, but it's a start. It's a really good start. And, and those city council members, um, I'm sure they heard from both sides, but I know that room was packed with Moms Demand Action volunteers showing their support for being brave and passing these really lifesaving, um, ordinances.
And they can go somewhere else. But if you're making it more difficult for someone to do that, maybe if it's, you know, making something more difficult, they may choose something else.
That makes me think exactly what you're saying. When we talk about gun safety and we, and of course, the mass shootings and the school shootings are horrific and they take up the headlines as they should because of the collective trauma, right? They cause for everyone involved. And if you look at the number one cause, of gun deaths, it's suicide in our country. And so it's, it's close to 60% of deaths from firearms are from suicide. So, you know, access to a gun triples three times, your risk of suicide.
If you have access, if you do use a gun, um, to attempt suicide, it's more than 90% effective. So you're not getting a second chance. It's that access to a gun. And that's exactly right. This is if we're making it more difficult to access the gun, we're saving lives.
And, and one thing, one of the meetings that I had gone was a suicide prevention.
And one thing that really stuck with me having teens, right? It's like, you know what? They have a bad day, right? It's just, and in a teen's life or anyone's life, you know, your husband loses his job bad day, right. That one second thought of just like, I need to be done. And if there's a gun available, it's, it's over right. It's over in the house. And that really stuck with me because if it's locked and they had a bad day, you know, what they might go to sleep and the next day might look brighter. But sometimes you don't give that person that chance because they have something available to just end it there.
And, and exactly, and it's, and it's successful. There's no second chance. And I hink both you and I have, uh, someone, we know a mutual friend where this was the story, not too long ago, where she had access to a gun and ended her life. And this waiting period is really important to me right now. This is a big one that Discuss the waiting period. Cause I'm not that familiar with what that is. It's a law, so Colorado doesn't have it. Other states do, you know, other states have different waiting period laws in place that I can't speak to the exact specifics, but basically it's that if you go in and you want to purchase a firearm, you know, most states would have you do the background check and a background checked, usually can take place in a matter of minutes and you purchase your gun. So you walk in, you would like to purchase a gun, they do a background check, it's done, um, you know, background checks. Aren't checking how you're feeling that day or why you're going to use that gun right now.
And a waiting period would be just that you cannot access it at that time. Whether it be a three-day at 10 day different states, I think in Boulder county, one of the, um, I think it's up to 10 days before you can, you can get your gun. So it's going to save lives, especially for, for those contemplating taking their own life.
Okay. So as we're talking about laws though, with that one, another one that was passed in Colorado, and this was in 2019, um, is what's called the most well known as the red flag law or the ERPO, which is stands for extreme risk protection order. And this is something I worked really hard to help get past. And it was, uh, actually named after the sheriff Zachary Parrish, who, uh, was a sheriff in Douglas county where I'm from. And he, he was killed by someone that had access to many, weapons when they were responding.
It would sound like the officers did know this individual had weapons at home and was unsafe. Um, the mother knew that as well, but there was no way. And this individual was, uh, showing signs that they were unsafe, unsafe to others and themselves, but there was no way to, at that time remove the weapons from this individual and Zachary ended up losing or being killed because of that.
Um, as you responded to, to this individual's homes. So the extreme risk protection order, um, is a tool that law enforcement can use or a family member if they feel that their family member is in crisis or showing signs that again, they're unsafe, they're going to be unsafe to themselves or others where they can petition a judge to have the judge make the decision whether or not the person's firearms can be removed. And I won't get into all the details of the law.
A lot of people say it's just taking someone's guns away without any due process that is not true. And it would allow that individual to get the help they needed before. And it can be a temporary or both, uh, extreme risk protection order. And then they again go in front of the judge and the person can then say whether, if they think they deserve to have their guns back or not, and then it can be extended out for a year if it, if that's deemed necessary. And I think the other piece of this law that's important, if a background check was run to not be able to purchase a gun.
That's what I was just about to ask.
That is another, that was, um, that was passed in Colorado. So, Colorado does have some good gun safety laws, and we have some really brave legislators out there working hard to make sure we're going to pass more. And I think more will come up in 2023. Um,.
And I have to ask this. I do so with all these, I mean, it sounds like we're doing pretty well comparatively, but yet, I mean, we've had multiple huge shootings in Colorado.
Even recently. So anything to say to that.
It is still 18 to buy a rifle or a long gun. Um, but I want to look that up I'm in Colorado. So it is legal, just like these recent shootings that happened for, you know, an 18 year old. I would love for us to raise the purchasing age to hire 20, 20, even 25. Um,.
And can I ask you this too? Um, because my kids have asked, actually is, you know, raising the age from 18 to 25, what do you feel that accomplishes?
I would feel it would just like any of our other laws out there where an 18-year-old isn't allowed to drink alcohol because we don't feel like as a society they're ready, they're not able to rent a car because our society feels they don't have the maturity to do that. And it's just more time right. To mature before you have access. I personally may have other views that no one should have access to.
And my family was well raising the age. Well, a lot of these shootings, you know, one recently was an 18 year old, but you know, a lot of them are not they're older. So I think that's, that was their question. So thank you for just giving some insight to it. Yeah.
And there is, there is a push right now. I don't know how far we'll get that federally that we did have an assault weapons ban back don't know the exact year. So in the nineties, um, for several years and, it ran out at the law expired to have them. So this isn't, there is precedent to have an assault weapons ban.
Right. Because who really needs an assault weapon?
Well, to me, I think if you're at war and I can't come up with any other reasons, right. If more than 2,100 children and teens were dying every year from anything else. Would we, as a country just sit back and say, well, there's nothing we can do about that.
Okay. Big stuff here, big steps. Any other laws that you feel that our listeners should know about?
Well, I think as I was preparing to talk to you today, um, there's a whole bunch of headlines coming out that it does look like the Senate. So, um, is coming together with some bipartisan support for some gun safety laws. And that, that is big. I don't know all the details on what that is at the, as I'm talking to you, but I'm sure all the details are coming out our house. So again, I'm talking at the federal level now has passed several laws.
So making it federal, uh, ERPO red flag law at the federal level. So all states need to have, um, a federal background check law again, so that all states have it. There's something called the Charleston loophole. I don't know if you've heard of that one, Lisa. Um, you must have a background check, but the background check, if it doesn't go through within three days, then automatically you're just able to act to purchase your gun.
So that kind of, well, sorry, it took so long. Okay. You can get your gun. Well, usually when it's taking longer for these laws to go through, there's usually probably a reason it's taking longer. Maybe, maybe there's some more background. They need to investigate. Maybe the person's lived in different areas and they call it the Charleston loophole because I believe it was in the church in South Carolina, um, the Emmanuel church in South Carolina, where a shooter was able to access his gun, even though he was legally prohibited from buying his gun.
And it was taking longer than the three days. So these are some common-sense laws that I feel like it's relatively hard to argue against. Um, that people say, oh, well we already have background check laws. Great. Not all states have them. Let's have all the states have them. Great. And you know, there are some loopholes you can buy, you can still buy them from unlicensed dealers. That's, let's close that loophole. So I think there's, there's waiting period laws and there's red flag laws that are so important.
And there's, you know, laws such as closing some loopholes that, um, I'm hopeful. Our Senate is going to come together to pass. But like I was saying that the house has already passed them. They're sitting there waiting for the Senate to take them up and to listen. So I do think there is some hope that things, things are changing. Um,.
And you did say there was the positive piece that you said some positive stuff. After all those negative things,.
My friends uses this quote and I really like it. And she says that antidote to her anger is action. And, and I really do feel that way because it's easy to look at all of this and it's terrible. And all the headlines and these children that are killed, it's awful. And I found myself sitting back going, this is terrible. What can I do? What can I do? Yes. Each meeting that I go to, or that I plan each, I talked to one of my legislators, I'm doing something. And that action feels meaningful. And that's the collective action of all of us together using our voices.
It makes a difference when our legislators hear from us, it makes a difference. Um, you know, we're, we're changing the narrative that, you know, gun violence prevention, like back in 2013, legislators were being recalled because of it. And now we have legislators actively campaigning calling ourselves, right.
Gun sense candidates. Um, and I think that has changed. And I think, yeah, finding, finding a way to get involved in a simply a sending an email and saying, okay, I sent an email, you know, what can they do next? I'm going to make a phone call and making a phone call. Sounds scary. I'm going to tell you, um, most of the time you make a phone call, you're leaving a voice message anyways, but there's my voice. This is what I, what matters is your legislators, you know, finding out where, where does your school board stand on this? I think you've gotten to some school board meetings, maybe Lisa.
I've gone to the principals. So I was on the making schools safer and seeing what individual schools were needing within the Boulder county. And I got to talk, I mean, so scary to talk to. I don't talk to anyone, even though I do a podcast, face-to-face talking to a principal is like terrifying, but I did. I sat ask questions. I was amazed at how responsive they were. I was amazed at how much the schools were doing and how prepared they really are. And that made me feel really good.
Yeah. That made me think of that. As you're talking, there is a program called be smart. I don't know if you've heard of this one. And so be smart. It's an acronym and it's, um, really to help reduce suicides and unintentional shootings. And it's an acronym that s for secure, you know, securing your firearms, the M model responsible behavior. And then the is what I think is, is most important. The A is to ask. And I think this is something listeners, if you want to take home or something that you can do. So it's trying to normalize the language between asking someone, if you're having a play date, if your child, especially a young child is going over to someone's house for the first time, it might be common to send a text message.
Hey, Lisa, I'm so excited. My daughter's coming over to play today. She doesn't have any allergies. And do you have any guns in your home? If so, how are they secured? Normalizing that? So you could write back, oh, Hey, thanks, Jenny.
Um, we don't have any guns on their home in our home or yes, we do, but they are secured, you know, locked away. The kids don't know how to access them, where they are. Okay, great. Maybe they're going to say we do have guns. They're stored, you know, in our bedside table, but don't worry, you know, our kids know not to use them. I maybe I'm going to decide then, okay. Maybe we would do the play date at my house instead of her. Um, and I remember being really nervous the first time I did it. Um, but then why right. I'm nervous because I don't want to make someone uncomfortable.
Okay. Why they're uncomfortable? Or am I worried about, you know, my child? Yeah. So I think that,.
Yeah, that was hard for us as well. We did ask, um, you know, and we definitely have, I mean, it's Colorado, a lot of people, in fact, most people we know do actually have guns. Um, and yeah, and it was definitely scary to ask, but especially, you know, we started with sleepovers because we felt like, oh, they were overnight there. They are there and watched, um, so that's where we started with. And it was a fine response, like super scary. It was a lot of oh, asking, but, but really, it was like, I don't care if you have a gun or not.
That's not what I care about. I just want to know, do you have a gun that's stored safely. And so we kind of pose it more like that versus like, you know, do you have a gun in your house? You know, it was more like, Hey, do you have a gun that is stored safely in your house? Cause I need to know, you know, if I'm sending my kid over and we've got really great responses, you know, we did get one that was like put high on a shelf that they couldn't reach. Think about that one. I was like, couldn't they not really reach it, um, versus locked, but yeah, but that was definitely a hard conversation, but we felt much safer doing that, you know?
Yeah. It is. I think it's yeah. Feeling uncomfortable. I don't want to offend anyone. Right. And it's the way you ask, you're not saying, like we're not saying you can't have a gun, but if you do, and my young child's at your house, how do I know that they're safe? So, um, that is something I think we can, you could take away from this.
I know in, in the Boulder area, there was a teenager who died not too long ago, um, from access to a firearm at their friend's house. So I think teenagers, it's important to know as well.
That's, and that's when we stopped knowing where they're going, you know? So that's really scary because so many parents, we don't know they're teenagers. It's not like we're meeting their parents anymore. So it is a lot harder. I feel like with teens. So the other thing we did was, you know, educate our kids, you know, if there is a gun, you know what to do and you know, it's not a toy, you know, whatever. Um, just educating a little bit more of our kids. So we did that at the same time we kept asking. So hopefully some of that stuck, but I love going into what we can do, because I think there are a lot of parents, like what can we do?
So talk a little bit, I know you mentioning Mom's Demands a lot, but like talk about a little bit of, I know they have so many divisions that you can become part of.
Easiest way you can text, um, R E AD Y 6 4 4 3 3 that will put you in touch right away, uh, with your local, your local group. I will say, as being a local group lead, we're fortunately being inundated with lots of people who want to volunteer, which is wonderful, but it will take us a little bit of time to get back to everyone. Right? Next, we are all volunteers. This is something we're doing, you know, working and many of us working full-time and doing this on the side, but not to say, we're not going to get back to you, but keep, if you find out where your local group is, keep asking, when's the next meeting?
How can I show up if you need to, but there are lots of meetings coming up. You can, you can go to the Mom's Demands Action website or the, everytown for gun safety website to get information as well.
Um, and then I think also if you feel like you want to do something that you can do something today, again, find out who your representatives are. So go to thathttps://openstates.org/find_your_legislator/, I told you about putting your address and find out who represents you and where do they stand on things. And if you can't tell from their websites, send them an email and ask them, you know, what are you doing to prevent gun violence? Or, um, where do you stand? You know, I will say in, in Douglas county where I live, I live in a very conservative county. Uh, there are no local legislators.
Um, and sadly now on the federal level for either as federal level, either as I, if we've got redistricted out of Jason Crow's, district, but so we're kind of doing the opposite. We're fighting against, um, laws that we think will reduce our safety, that, um, such as they want to allow, um, guns on school grounds.
Those are one of the, our legislators and castle rock is every year brings that bill to the floor that they want to get rid of the gun-free zones in schools and allow guns on campus. And so we are working to fight against those laws. So that's another thing that when we say change hasn't happened, we have, um, we have stopped some of these bills from, from moving forward. So I think if you live in a conservative area, like I do that, that's important to know what people are trying to do. And if you live in a less conservative area, um, like you do in Boulder, you know, thank your, your city council for what they're doing.
I think it's really important to let those, elected officials know that you have their back and you, you know, we'll work to be sure they keep their jobs because of what they're doing.
Yeah. And what I love, I'm going to put a little plug for Moms Demands. Um, what I love about them is I don't feel like I'm super educated. Like you sound so knowledgeable right now talking about all that stuff. Right. But where I'm like, I know there's a problem, right. But what I love about Mom's Demands, if you want to do something, they make it so easy. Like when I talked to the principals, they gave me scripts that I would come in with questions to ask, I didn't have to come up with those. They give you scripts to call your representatives.
They make it so easy that you don't have to know anything. Cause that's the fear. I was like, what if they ask me, they give you those scripts. They prepare you for whatever you need and you can help on so many different levels.
Or you could just be a body to just say, I'm just going to, I just want to show support. So I'm put on a red shirt and just stand here and I can do something. Right. And so that's what I do love about them. And, and I definitely was somebody who's like, oh my God, this is such a big problem. But I don't think like, just, I'm just one person. I don't know what I'm doing. What can I do? I really feel like even the little bits that I've helped have, I see those laws passing, I see the wins, you know, and I'm like, wow, it did make a difference.
Those postcards that I sent out to support somebody, wow. Now they're elected. That, that was amazing that I was a part of. And so I think that is one thing. At least Mom's Demands can take somebody who just wants to do something, but has no idea how to do it.
And I love that you said that because I did spew off a lot of facts that I've learned for the past four years, the talking points that I really, you know, but I still might fumble and there's might be one thing I said today that someone listening could say, she didn't say that. Right. She called that, you know, by the wrong name. Um, and that's okay because we want to reduce gun violence in this country. We want to keep our kids safer and we're doing everything we can to make that happen. And yes, moms is going to give you the language that you need and give you the support.
And you can just show up and say, I, I want to make, you know, my kids safer when they go to school. Okay. Let's start with that. And I think even having a conversation that is so scary or sending an email to the people that are making the laws, right, they're the ones that are making the laws, have a conversation. Well, what do you think? What are you doing? Why do you think this asking questions, I think is a great way. You don't have to come with the information. You can just ask the questions, um, and then, and take that what answers you get and decide if that's someone you feel like you should support with what they give you.
So that, that is something that I learned from them. Like, don't just go and ask questions. Don't feel like you have to be the one that, all the information.
Right. Right. I mean, Jenny, this is such a big topic, obviously. Um, and so hard, but what, what is like maybe one hopeful thing that we can leave parents with?
Again, I quote Shannon Watson, but she says, when people ask her how you keep doing this every day, um, because she's been, you know, in this fight since 2012 and this really the, and she is a, full-time volunteer also with this. Um, but she's, you know, going on national broadcasts and talking and, and they say, how do you keep doing it? And she says, well, how do I not? She says, what's the alternative? What is the alternative for all of us to not do anything? And if you think of it that way, I think, how do you, how do you not make that phone call?
How do you not step out of your comfort zone to make, you know, our country and our kids safer? So maybe that's not like a feel good thing, but it's maybe what you need that motivation just to kind of, to nudge you to do a little bit more.
Yeah. Is there anything else that you feel that is really important for parents to hear?
I think that your voice matters and, and it makes a difference and Shannon Watts for the stay at home mom, and she's now organized over 8 million supporters from what she's done. We're not all going to be her by any means. Um, but we can be a piece of what she's doing. And I think, you know, education is key. So just hearing these facts, learning a little bit more each day, learning who represents you, uh, is important. Um, and, and things are coming, right? The fact that we got text alerts this morning saying that the Senate is ready to pass some bi-partisan, uh, or has some bi-partisan support.
This is changed.
Alright. Changing topics a little bit. Um, I always ask this now, what has been your favorite parenting? Okay.
Oh, parenting resource. Gosh. I'm to like a podcast junkie. So I love this. And I started listening to this recent podcast called the puberty podcast. It's by Deere media productions, and I've really been enjoying it, learning all about as I have a 13 year old and a 10 year old entering tween them. Um, it's been really a good one to listen to other podcasts. I would check out that puberty podcast.
I'm going, I'm going to check it out. I've got a 13 puberty boy.
Kind of in the throws of it.
Everyone's lots of hormones going around my house right now, but that's okay.
It's a whole bunch of different, you can kind of pick and choose what you want to listen to and what topics they have. But it's, it's, it's a great one.
Awesome. I love that one, but thank you, Jenny, for just, oh my God. So much information that you gave us so much education and just an amazing resource. Yeah. You are doing so much for this gun violence that we are dealing with. And it's so scary out there that it's just nice to know that we can do something. Instead of, I think someone recently said this, it was like, I think a basketball coach or something, but was like, I'm sick of the moment of silences. And. I am, I'm sick of people complaining about gun violence. I'm sick of the moment of silences. I'm more of a doer. So I feel like, okay, instead of complaining, instead of having that moment of silence, let's pick something to do to change. And that would be awesome.
Yeah. Yeah. And I, I think gun violence prevention isn't and there are lots of things. So people are going to get bogged down with all the things that are causing violence in our country. My and is, is reducing access, um, reducing access to guns for people who shouldn't have them. Uh, many people say guns, don't kill people. People kill people. And I know Shannon Watts likes to say, well, great. If it's the people that, you know, kill people, let's reduce their access to a gun. So yeah.
Yeah. Let's make it harder. Let's make it harder.
Thank you for taking the time to listen to this episode, Jenny shared so much valuable information with us today. Please come and join us on our Real Life Momz Facebook group, so we can continue to share resources and keep our family safe. And don't forget even one person can make a difference.
Mom of two kids age 13 and 10. Worked as a pediatric physical therapist for over 20 years. Volunteer with Moms Demand Action for 4 years.