Be Smart Tabling at Local PTA Events

Thanks to a Be Smart presentation given by John Yalch from Raleigh to the annual New Hanover County PTA Association in August, several opportunities were created to do Be Smart tabling at Ogden Elementary and Castle Hayne Elementary schools.  With the help of Judy Phelps, Barbara Brooks and Ashley Bissette Sumerel tabling was done at the Ogden Elementary Food Truck Night and again at the Fall Festival as well as at the Castle Hayne Elementary Fall Festival.  A big thank you to the PTA presidents of Ogden Elementary, Kate Fortun, and Castle Hayne Elementary, Summer Mehalko, for their interest in keeping kids safe and offering these opportunities.  Through these tablings we were able to contact dozens of families and discuss the Be Smart program,  hand out numerous brochures, postcards highlighting the meaning of Be Smart,  13 gun locks and dozens of Be Smart buttons.  Below are some of the pictures from our tabling events.

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Be Smart Initiative for Pediatricians

Moms Demand Action has initiated a program to contact pediatricians and encourage them to have conversations with their patients regarding kids, guns and safety.  The materials made available to the pediatricians include wall posters, brochures and postcards outlining the SMART concepts for keeping kids safe from gun violence.  In Wilmington we have contacted more than a dozen offices and have had about a 30% success rate.  Many thanks to Wilmington Health ( 6 offices ), Carolina Pediatricians of Wilmington ( 2 offices ), Dr. Egg Pediatric Dentistry ( 1 office ) and Lauren Brooks for placing posters in their offices and handing out literature to patients.  A special thank you to Wilmington Health for requesting a poster with both English and Spanish on the same one.  This has become very popular and was an excellent idea.  And another heartfelt thanks to Carolina Pediatricians of Wilmington for placing a link to the Be Smart website on theirs.  Another wonderful idea of a way to educate people on how to keep kids safe from gun violence.   We will continue our efforts and hope to have further success with other pediatrician’s offices.

A Gun Violence Prevention Coalition has been formed in Raleigh and I have attended several meetings along with others from Wilmington Faiths Against Gun Violence.  My personal involvement has been on the School Safety workgroup.  I have attended several workgroup meetings where school board members, SROs and security experts have given insights into the actual functioning of the current policies in place to try and keep kids safe while at school.  These discussions have been insightful and have helped to know where to best address this issue of school safety.

Moms Demand Action has also done a study and presented an action plan for the best practices for preventing school gun incidents.  Basically, it requires the entire community to work together to define a potential threat before an incident occurs, having in place adequate methods and resources for addressing these types of threats and good common sense gun laws.  Please vote for candidates that understand the need for common sense gun legislation.  This is the best way to change the culture and reduce gun violence in our country and help keep kids safe.

Recent Activities to Prevent Gun Violence

Participated in the Moms Demand Action Sept monthly meeting on the 20th.  Kaylyn, a high school student, made a presentation to the group highlighting the Walk Out at her school which she helped organize after the Parkland incident.  She provided insight to the feelings of students regarding their fears of gun violence when attending school.   She is a determined advocate for gun violence prevention and a force to be reckoned with.

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Participated in a town hall meeting sponsored by high school students in Wilmington.  Several students gave speeches outlining their feelings and calling for action.  Several candidates for public offices also gave speeches and highlighted their plans to help prevent gun violence.  All of the candidates did not win but there were some close races.  Some of them did win and are now in a position to promote gun sense legislation.  Momentum is building.  Keep it going!!

 

 

Attended on Oct 18 a Domestic Violence Rally and March in downtown Wilmington.  Numerous speakers gave testimonials of the impact gun violence has had on their lives.

Made the Be Smart presentation to the group Grandparents Raising Grandchildren.  Many in this group have been affected by gun violence with their family and friends.  Some were gun owners who also understood the need for safe gun storage and handling.

Attended the North Carolinians Against Gun Violence (NCGV) in Raleigh and participated in a breakout session regarding school safety led by Becky Ceartas the NCGV Executive Director.

Attended on Dec 10 the Vigil for the victims at Sandy Hook at St. James Episcopal church sponsored by Wilmington Faiths Against Gun Violence.

 

 

Be Smart Initiative by Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America

Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America has had an initiative in 2018 to promote the safety of children by gun violence prevention.  Moms Demand Action created a program called Be Smart that highlights simple, easy to remember behaviors that everyone can do immediately today to prevent child gun deaths.  Smart is an acronym for :

S – secure guns in homes and vehicles ( keep guns locked, unloaded and ammunition separated from the gun )

M – model responsible behavior ( never point a gun at anyone, always assume it is loaded and never rely on the safety )

A – ask about the presence of guns and how they are secured at anyplace where your children may be going ( friends, neighbors, family )

R – recognize the risks of suicide (change in behavior, comments, depression, aggression)

T – tell others about the lessons learned from the Smart program (friends, neighbors, family)

Since being trained to give the Be Smart presentation I have had the opportunity to give it to 6 different groups and reached over 150 individuals.  The presentations have also presented the opportunity to hand out a dozen or so gun locks.  My fondest wish is that each of these people pass on some of what they learned to others and implemented the recommendations themselves.  The groups included such diverse areas as a Progressive Women’s Group in Southport, Tri County Community Collaborative, Rose Peace Montessori, Wilmington Faiths Against Gun Violence, South Brunswick Elementary and a Moms Demand Action monthly meeting in Wilmington.  If you have any interest in having the Be Smart presentation given to a group you are involved in, please let me know at jphelps142.nc@gmail.com.  If we are all SMART together we can help eliminate child gun deaths.

March for Our Lives Students Hold Town Hall Meeting with Kyle Horton and Private Meeting with US Rep. David Rouzer

The March for Our Lives students led by Kaylyn and Vivian sponsored a Town Hall meeting on April 7, 2018 and invited Dr Kyle Horton and Rep. David Rouzer to participate.  Dr. Horton accepted and had an opportunity to present her views on gun violence prevention in our schools and to answer questions from the students and the general audience.  Rep. David Rouzer declined to have such a public discussion on his views on this very important topic to save the lives of our students.  He did agree to a private meeting at his office held on May 3, 2018 with just the students present.  While Kyle Horton expressed publically her support for not arming teachers, banning assault weapons and bump stocks,  David Rouzer continued his rhetoric from the NRA regarding 2nd amendment rights preventing him from protecting the rights of students to feel safe in their schools.  He also thinks more guns in schools would keep the students safer.  I guess when you are receiving the kind of financial support from the NRA that Rouzer is you are obligated to put forth its agenda even at the risk of student’s lives.  It is a disgrace and the cure is to vote him and those elected officials like him out of office.  

Let your voice be heard in November!!

See pictures of Dr Kyle Horton, the students and the crowd at the Town Hall below along with the students and their supporters at Rouzer’s office meeting.

Dr. Kyle Horton addressing student’s questions at town hall

Notice sign prohibiting firearms to keep Rouzer safe but no such concern for the students

March for Our Lives in Wilmington, NC on March 24, 2018

Representing Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, Judy and I along with a couple of dozen other people holding Mom Demand Action signs participated in the March for Our Lives sponsored by high school students in the community. Many thanks to Bonnie MacGlaudlin who helped hold the Moms Demand Action banner throughout the March and speeches. The turnout exceeded the expectations and estimates put the crowd at over 2000. The students gave rousing speeches with enormous cheers from the crowd. They are motivated because they feel their lives are at stake. And they are mad!! They clearly stated that common sense gun violence prevention legislation needs to be passed and they blame elected officials like Tom Tillis, Richard Burr and David Rouzer who were mentioned by name. Specific amounts of money given to each of these elected officials by the NRA were specified. The students could not understand why guns are held in higher regard than their lives. Some very eloquent and impassioned comments were made indicating that the students regard arguments from the NRA about the second amendment as pure BS. The students believe their right to live far outweighs any such thoughts. Specific recommendations included raising the age limit to 21 to purchase a gun, universal background checks for all firearm purchases, ban assault weapons such as AR15 used in many of the school massacres and limit magazines to no more than 8 rounds. These are common sense suggestions and Congress needs to act on them to avoid further school tragedies. Will this eliminate all of them? Of course not. But it would certainly reduce them significantly. If we can make an improvement, why would we not. Let your voice be heard!! The lives of our school children are at stake. Vote out any elected official that will not support the common sense recommendations of these students.

Gun Fair and Gun Locks on Feb 18, 2018

The sheriff’s department here in Wilmington had given me some gun locks to distribute in the community to try and keep gun owners and their families (in particular for me their kids)  safe.   At the meetings I have attended and asked if anyone could use a gun lock, no one even owned a gun.  There was a gun fair in Wilmington, NC this weekend.  I thought that maybe it would be a good place to distribute the gun locks since I had not given out but one since I had received them.  I was not sure what kind of a response I would get talking to attendees at the gun fair.  To my surprise there was a very positive response by all those I greeted and offered a gun lock for free if they had a gun in the home and would use it.  I was able to distribute all that I had within fifteen minutes.  Even more encouraging was the fact that all of the people I approached who were there with children already had gun locks or a locked cabinet.  Even many of those who did not need one because they already had locks for their guns were very thankful for the effort to dispense gun locks to those who needed them.  Overall a very positive experience that will be repeated at the next gun fair.  Wilmington has a couple each year and it definitely is a place to reach gun owners.

 

Be safe and let your voice be heard.  Please vote for gun sense candidates at your local elections.

Meeting with Rep Rouzer’s Staff on Gun Violence Prevention on 10/19/17

A group representing Mom’s Demand Action (Barbara Brooks, Lindsay Murray, Sandy Hardesty and I) went to the office of Rep David Rouzer in New Hanover County, NC and had a good discussion with Chance Lambeth, Deputy District Director for Rep Rouzer, on several pieces of legislation impacting gun violence prevention .

The first was HR 38 that involves concealed carry reciprocity.  It was explained that North Carolina has fairly good concealed carry laws.  HR 38 would open up the citizens of NC to the lowest standards in all states, some of which do not require background checks, training or any permit whatsoever.  It was pointed out that this would not make citizens of North Carolina safer but the contrary.

The next topic revolved around silencers and HR 367 and HR 3668.  This legislation would effectively make it easier for domestic abusers and violent criminals to have access to silencers.  This is not in the best interest of North Carolina.   Furthermore, it would make the difficult job of law enforcement officers even more difficult since the warning noise of a gunshot would be suppressed and the direction from which a shot came would be much more difficult to assess.

We asked that Rep Rouzer vote no on these pieces of legislation when and if they ever come up for a vote.

Call or write your government representatives today and make them aware of your concerns and wishes regarding this type of legislation.  Let your voice be heard!  And remember to vote for those candidates that demonstrate an understanding of the severity of the gun violence epidemic in this country and are willing to pass legislation that will help prevent it not encourage it.

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Resource Opportunity Fair in Wilmington, NC on May 13, 2017

This was a wonderful opportunity to meet many of the other groups active in the Wilmington community – Moms in Morning, Phoenix, Coastal Horizens, BlueRibbonCommittee, Wilmington Faiths Against Gun Violence, Kids Making It, Dream and many others.   They are all striving to improve the quality of life for all citizens in this city.  Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America was also a participant with a table and several representatives there to discuss with attendees how to keep children safe from gun violence.   I gave the BeSmart presentation and actually had a couple of attendees indicate an interest in having the presentation given to their groups.  Reaching out to the community and making the local residence aware of the resources available to them that may help them is very valuable to all.  A change in venue to indoors due to a threatening thunder storm minimized the attendance but did not dampen the enthusiasm of the participants.  Many thanks to Bernardine Fulton, Don Arabian, Chuck Caper, Rebecca Blake and Gail Fulton who spearheaded this event.  It was Bernardine’s vision that made it all actually happen.  You can make a difference – let your voice be heard!

Resource Opportunity Fair in Wilmington, NC

On May 13, 2017 at Jervay Community Center Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America is participating in the Resource Opportunity Fair.  This fair is intended to make the residence of this neighborhood aware of the many groups and resources available to them in the community.  Moms Demand Action will give a presentation on the BeSmart program and help demonstrate how to keep kids safe.  The fair runs from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm and all are welcome.  Moms Demand Action will staff a booth and pass out literature and have discussions with attendees.  There will be handouts and prizes for the children.  Some of the groups represented will give performances.  Hope to see you there.

March for Science in Wilmington, NC

The Wilmington chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America participated in the March for Science along with over 750 others.  Studying the effects of gun violence helps to understand how to help prevent it.  With the epidemic of deaths in America due to gun violence ( 33,000 per year which is over 90 per day ) this topic needs to be studied and reviewed as much as possible until significant improvements are made.  Facts matter and research saves lives!

“Firearms Not Permitted” Sticker Requests

Through a Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America meeting in Wilmington, NC, a Moms member learned of the campaign to place “Firearms Not Permitted” stickers on restaurants and bars.  This member,Mary Beth,  recently asked if she could obtain 10 of these for a friend who owns a retail store in downtown Wilmington.  This owner had an experience where someone came into her store open carrying a firearm.  She was mortified and could not believe this person needed this type of weapon to go shopping.  She discussed this with some of the other businesses in the neighborhood and sought out a possible remedy to avoid this happening again.  This episode was scary for her and her customers.  Mary Beth indicated her friend and several of the adjoining businesses are putting up the stickers to alert clientele that firearms are not permitted in these establishments.  Thank you Mary Beth for helping to keep us all safe while shopping in Wilmington.

Rep. David Rouzer Town Hall Meeting in Wilmington, NC

Rep. Rouzer held a 2 hour town hall meeting in Wilmington last week for which I commended him when allowed to ask my question.  The major issues discussed included health care, environment, social security, equality and gun violence.  All of the expected jeers and boos came from most of the topics and answers (or non answers ) given by the representative.  His answer to my question regarding his stance on state reciprocity of concealed carry laws and campus carry laws was simply ” I support concealed carry laws”.  This answer makes it clear to me that he has absolutely no concern for the welfare of the children in the state of North Carolina nor any of its citizens.  Our state has some fairly good laws regarding these topics (which was mentioned) and he does not care if they are over ruled by federal laws or even other states with very weak gun violence prevention legislation.  Shame on you Rep Rouzer.

 

Since our country has the highest number of guns compared to any other developed country and if guns make us safer, we should be the safest country in the world.
We are the exact opposite.  To the point where other countries are beginning to warn their citizens of the danger of travelling to the United States.  Congress needs to address this issue and make our country safer.  Guns are the issue.  Wake up and do your job!  Several chants were taken up during the town hall meeting and one was “Do your job!”  and another was “yes or no!004”  when the representative was asked a specific yes or no question and he would refuse to answer.  Instead he would spout political propaganda that did not answer the question.  At least he held the meeting and allowed all to participate in a reasonable way and he took the reaction he had to know he was going to get on certain issues.

Wilmington Moms Demand Action Jan Meeting

The Reverend Jim Atwood gave an inspiring talk on his book “Gundamentalism”.  He is the father of local member Mebane Boyd.  He has been fighting for gun violence prevention for over forty years.  For those who missed the discussion I would highly recommend reading the book to gain some insight into the gun culture in this country and the issues involved around it.

This was my first opportunity to present the BeSmart program and review the simple, easy to remember ways to help keep our children safe from gun violence.

S – Secure guns in the home and vehicles, use gun locks and store ammunition separate from the gun

M – Model safe behavior,  point gun in safe direction and assume it is loaded; never trust the safety

A – Ask if there are guns in the home and how they are secured; including neighbors, friends and relatives

R – Recognize risks of teen suicide, change in mood, hopelessness, aggressiveness

T – Tell others to BeSmart and about the methods listed here to avoid gun violence to children.

 

Let your voice be heard!

 

 

Women’s March on Washington Wilmington Rally

It was an honor to participate in this rally in Wilmington on Jan 21, 2017, representing Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.  There were numerous very moving speeches, poems and music presented today.  The response of the city of Wilmington was inspiring to all who attended.  The main themes were equality for all citizens, what happens to the earth matters to us all,  quality education is essential for all children and violence is not the answer to any of the problems we face today.  A strong message was sent by several of the speakers to get involved and do what you can to influence legislators to pass common sense laws for all of these topics including gun violence prevention.

Let Your Voice Be Heard!!

This rally was initiated, not unlike Shannon Watts beginning of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, by Deb Norton who felt something should happen in Wilmington to support the Women’s March on Washington.  She may a Facebook page and ended up with some 14 speakers and well over 1000 participants in front of city hall.  You rock Deb!

 

Martin Luther King Jr. Parade

It was a privilege to be with the Wilmington Faiths Against Gun Violence group as the Moms Demand Action members joined them for the march.  The spectators lined the streets and chanted along with us all as we repeated over and over ” Stop gun violence, save our children”.  It was very inspiring.  Over 100 units were included in the parade – bands, dancers, politicians and various groups.  Nice to see everyone coming together to share in the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr. of dedication and hope.  A very positive experience for all who participated.

 

Vigil to Honor Victims of Gun Violence in Wilmington, NC

On Dec 19, 2016, there was a very moving vigil for the victims of gun violence in Wilmington, NC.  Specifically mentioned were the 26 victims at Sandy Hook and numerous victims from Wilmington.  This vigil was sponsored by Wilmington Faiths Against Gun Violence which represents 33 faith based establishments in Wilmington including churches, synagogues, mosques and gun violence prevention organizations.  The Wilmington chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America was well represented at this vigil.  The poem “Brown Bear” given and written by Brittani Smith of Moms-N-Mourning was particularly moving.  To belong to this group you must have lost a child to gun violence.  A poignant prayer was given by Reverend Cliff Barnett  who displayed numerous crime scene markers to demonstrate what he has experienced in his own neighborhood and building.  Other respectful prayers were also given by Christian, Jewish and Islam representatives and a local public servant.  It was an excellent program that honored those victims of gun violence and encouraged us all to take action to prevent further gun violence tragedies.  Go in Peace.  Let your voice be heard.  BeSmart!

 

Vigil in Wilmington, NC

The vigil has been officially moved to St. James Episcopal church at 25 S. 3rd St. ( 3rd and Dock St) at 6:15 pm with music proceeding the vigil.  Hope to see you there.

Wilmington, NC Vigil to Honor Victims of Gun Violence

On Monday, Dec 19 in downtown Wilmington,NC there will be a vigil honoring the 26 victims at Sandy Hook and the numerous other gun violence victims in Wilmington, NC.   The program begins at 6:00 pm with music commencing at 5:30 pm at Innis Park.  In case of rain the vigil will be moved inside to the gym at St. James Episcopal church at 25 S. 3rd St..  Please plan to attend this event and place attention on the victims that have given their lives to senseless gun violence.  This issue needs everyone’s support to reduce the large number of innocent people especially children affected by gun violence.  The unprecedented number of guns present in our society raises the potential for these incidents and the need for attention to safe handling and storage of guns is critical to reducing these incidents of gun violence.   BeSmart!

Letter to the Editor

In yesterday’s Wilmington Star-News newspaper there was an article posted, written by Judy Phelps,  highlighting the Vocal Majority tour bus stop in Wilmington.   In this letter to the editor Judy outlines the purpose of the tour to “Get Out the Vote” and to vote for gun sense candidates.  She highlights that the speakers at the rally all endorsed Hillary Clinton as the only gun sense candidate running for President.  Attached for your reference is a copy of the letter sent to the paper.  Let your voice be heard!  Vote to prevent gun violence.

 

Printed in Star-News on Tuesday, Nov 1, 2016

“Gunsense”

Recently,  the Vocal Majority tour bus sponsored by former member of Congress Gabby Giffords and her husband Mark Kelloy stopped in Wilmington for a news conference.

This bus has been touring  America to encourage citizens to vote for “gunsense” candidates.  There were five speakers – 4 from Wilmington – who spoke about stopping the flow of violence from offenders using illegal guns.  There were representatives from Moms in Mourning, Moms Demand Action, and several county government  elected officials.

The speakers reminded us that 91 people a day die from gun violence, adding up to 33,000 a year.  Each speaker noted that the only presidential candidate who vows to change these statistics and address the national disgrace which these numbers indicate is Hillary Clinton.  Let’s stop gun violence in our country and vote for candidates who are committed to this issue.

 

Judy Phelps, Wilmington

 

Many thanks to Judy for spreading the word of gun violence prevention during this campaign season.