It was December 14, 2012. I had just gotten off work and was settling into my car to go home. I started the engine. The radio, set to NPR, came on.
I’ll never forget that moment. Robert Siegel was reporting on the massacre of 20 students and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. The shock I felt in that instant, and subsequent stupor, were comparable only to what I felt on 9/11/2001.
From apathy to activism
I call this my tipping point moment – the moment I was kicked, in the butt, out of apathy and into social action.
I had been blissfully apathetic about the issue of gun violence before. No longer. I quickly joined the local (San Diego) chapter of the Brady campaign, as did several others (still my friends to this day). Soon I was serving on the chapter board.
Fast forward a few years. Local chapters of Moms Demand Action had sprung up in the San Diego region. Some of their members started joining us at our meetings too. We were doing a lot of the same work on the ground, often duplicating efforts. Until one day, when several of us had the idea to form a gun violence prevention coalition, bringing together members of other organizations and independent citizens united in one purpose: END GUN VIOLENCE.
A coalition is born
Thus, San Diegans for Gun Violence Prevention (SD4GVP) was born. We celebrated our launch on February 27, 2018, and incorporated as a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization later that year. I became president and part of an executive leadership team of eight, managing a group with some 50 or so active volunteers, and thousands on our email list.
In the few years we’ve been a formal coalition, we’ve made a lot of progress.
• SD4GVP has become the go-to resource for the media whenever legislation is pending or a mass shooting has occurred (which is far too often).
• We’ve gotten out the vote in local elections for candidates who support sensible gun violence prevention policy, and worked very closely with local, state, and federal officials – mayors, city council members, county supervisors, congresspeople – to achieve meaningful policy change.
• We’ve helped local municipalities pass anti-ghost gun ordinances, and supported our City Attorney in championing gun violence restraining orders (a.k.a. red flag laws) that have become a model for the state and the nation.
• We’ve conducted extensive community outreach at public events, in neighborhoods where violence is prevalent and in schools.
• We’ve invested heavily in supporting intervention strategies to remove the conditions that lead to violence before it occurs.
I’ve found my niche. You can, too.
My own role, which is very gratifying, is to be a public relations spokesperson for the group. I am routinely interviewed by the local media about our stance on gun violence prevention and the unrelenting trend of shooting deaths in this country.
I am so proud to belong to this group of highly talented, competent, professional and committed individuals who tirelessly press on — in spite of a federal legislature that refuses to advance meaningful gun reform.
Every. Single. Day. This coalition is making a difference.
Ron Marcus is president of SD4GVP.
photo credit: Valley Independent Sentinel, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 (unchanged)