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Letter to the Editor: HELP of Door County Commends Door County Students

HELP of Door County commends and stands with Door County area high school students who joined with others all across Wisconsin and the US to demand common sense gun reform from their elected officials.  What gives us great hope was observing these students join with others all across Wisconsin and the US to demand common sense gun reform from elected officials. As these students stood for the victims of the #ParklandShooting, we stand with them and the many victims of domestic violence who are threatened by guns every day. Their actions truly inspire us!

When the news originally broke of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (the 18th school shooting of 2018), all of us at HELP of Door County were struck by a familiar mixture of heartbreak and outrage. What did not shock us, however, as the Parkland shooting story unfolded was that the shooter who took those 17 innocent lives was allegedly abusive to a past girlfriend. There is no other more common characteristic shared among these men who commit these heinous atrocities than a history of violence towards their intimate partners. Men are the perpetrators in 98 percent of these mass shootings.

Our advocates regularly hear from survivors of abuse who are concerned that their partner may be capable of similar violence. While our advocates help victims to take steps like reaching out to law enforcement and developing safety plans, the reality is that as long as an abuser has access to a firearm, they pose a very serious threat to survivors, their loved ones, and the lives of others in the community. Regardless of your position on the 2nd Amendment, we can all agree that nobody deserves to live in fear of the horror their partner might cause out of a need for power and control. Everyone deserves to feel safe!

If you or someone you know is in a relationship that feels unsafe ‒ especially if the abusive person has access to firearms ‒ please call to talk with us whenever it’s safe to do so at 800.91.HELP.1. We’re here 24/7/365. Our advocates can help you access local resources for shelter, counseling and legal help while working with you to keep you and your loved ones as safe as possible.

If you are wondering what you personally can do to create positive change around this issue, here are some suggestions:

  • Register and show up to vote on election day
  • Encourage your lawmakers to enact laws which keep firearms out of the hands of domestic abusers. The most dangerous time for a survivor is when they first leave their abuser. The risk of lethality increases by 500 percent when firearms are used as a threat.
  • Donate to advocacy organizations that support common sense solutions to gun violence.
  • Finally, we encourage you to support students everywhere who are leading the way to force elected officials to find common sense solutions to issues of gun violence.

 

Steve Vickman, Executive Director HELP of Door County

Sturgeon Bay, Wis.

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