I Wish Doctors Would Have Told Me to Keep Guns Away from My Sister.

Amanda Johnson and her sister Leslie.

My brother and I were seven and nine when our beloved baby sister, Leslie, was born. She was infinitely funny, with a lightning-quick wit. She was beautiful and artistic and quirky and rebellious. She was both big-hearted and tender-hearted and would give the shirt off her back for those in need. Despite all of the wonderful things Leslie portrayed to the outside world, privately, she was losing an epic battle with depression. While there were times when her mood swings were chalked up to … [Read more...]

I Was Shot Three Times in My Front Yard. I’ll Never Stop Speaking Out for Common-Sense Gun Safety.

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October 12, 2012, started out as a typical day. It was a bit chilly that morning, so I put on a sweater that I particularly liked and headed to the local arts center where I worked at the time. We held a concert as part of an exhibit, so it was a long day, but a wonderful one. I was tired when I got home so I decided to unwind in the swing hanging from a large oak tree in my front yard. It was around 11:30 pm when I decided I should get to bed – I had an early day at work the next day. Just … [Read more...]

Behind closed doors, my well-respected, successful father threatened gun violence

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You know the old saying, “You can’t judge a book by its cover?” There is perhaps no better saying that applies to my father. He came from a well-respected, wealthy family in Boston. He went to Boston College and became an engineer, and then a nuclear physicist. He designed nuclear power plants across the country and made a great living doing so. My father was brilliant, but he was also suffering from mental illness and alcoholism. And, he was armed. I was one of five children – a … [Read more...]

He Gave His Life to Save a Friend

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On December 10, 2005, I came home from work to find my son, Vincent, also known as Shu­Shu, on the couch, playing video games with my daughter, Sabrina. Shu­Shu was his nickname because when he was a baby he used to hide my shoes whenever I tried to leave the house. When he got older, he started wearing my shoes. Even after he moved out of the house, every time he came home to visit me, he would wear my house shoes. As I was getting ready to take my daughter to work that day, I asked, him, … [Read more...]

Using My Voice to Make a Change

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On May 23, 2014, I had one of those rare, reflective moments in which I thought to myself, “God, my life is really good.” I’m not the kind of person who has those kinds of thoughts very often; I don’t generally sit back and contemplate how good everything is. But that day was different. It was a Friday afternoon, heading into a three-day weekend. I had a good week at work, it was a beautiful day, and the office manager closed the office down early. My wife and I spent the afternoon together, … [Read more...]

A Beautiful Day That Ended in Tragedy

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On May 18, 2008, my grandson turned 9-years-old. That same day, his father—my son Jim—was shot and killed. Around 2 p.m., we went over to my son Jim’s house for my grandson’s birthday party. The whole family came over, we had a buffet dinner, and the kids played outside. Jim’s family lived on a cul-de-sac, enabling all the kids in the neighborhood to play together. It was a gorgeous spring day, and an ice cream truck even pulled down into the cul-de-sac—it was like something out of a Norman … [Read more...]

Nothing Left to Fear

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My daughter, Jasmin, should turn 31 today, but her life was cut short at the age of 14. On October 13, 1999, I could tell something was going on with her. As I was leaving the house to go to the store, I asked her, “Is everything okay?” She said, “Yes,” but I knew something was up. When I came home, the lights were on in the house and Jasmin’s purse was on the couch along with her makeup and her jewelry—things she never left home without. I went to the school to look for her and spoke … [Read more...]