On February 14, my life changed forever. I was in Room 1214 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School studying Holocaust History when bullets started flying.
Thirty-seven years ago White House Press Secretary Jim Brady was shot in the assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan. Jim lived with constant pain and physical challenges for 33 years before that bullet to his head ultimately took his life in 2014.
Twenty-four years ago, the first Brady background check was conducted. Like much else originally developed in the 90's, this system has undergone a drastic evolution to become what it has today.
Over 30 years ago, I started donating to the Brady. I needed to do something to stop innocent victims from being shot every year. I never thought that my life would be impacted by gun violence, but 17 years ago, my daughter, Laura, was killed in a mass shooting.
I’ve been called many things during my 46 successful trips around the sun. Eagle Scout. United States Marine Corps officer. Combat veteran of the wars of Iraq and Afghanistan. And military-grade weapons? The only place for those is on battlefields.
I was hired to take on what I was told was "the most destructive force in America"– the NRA and the corporate gun lobby. (Jim Brady called it "the Evil Empire.") Was that hyperbole?
On June 21st Brady's Annual ASK Day launched with fanfare as dozens of stories on the event appeared in newspapers throughout the country and online. One of the biggest stories that day occurred quite by accident.
One year ago today, I woke up the same way millions of Americans did that morning: to a notification on my iPhone. As it was for so many, that morning was one I will never forget.
My nephew was many things: a beloved member of our family; a veteran; a gun owner. And a little over a year ago, he used one of those guns to take his life – the tragic consequence of his mental illness.