Over thirty years ago, I started making donations to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. I felt that I needed to do something to stop innocent victims from being shot every year. Like so many others, I never thought that my life would be impacted by gun violence, but 17 years ago today, my daughter, Laura, was killed in a mass shooting.
Home from college on break, Laura was filling in as a receptionist at our County Behavioral Health Clinic when a man opened fire and shot Laura four times at point-blank range, killing her instantly. When the rampage ended, three people lay dead, three were severely injured, a community was shaken, and the world was deprived of three special people, including my beloved daughter.
Laura, bright and beautiful at age nineteen, was talented, kind, and had an infectious spirit. She was an outstanding student, having graduated as high school valedictorian, and at the time of her death was a sophomore at Haverford College running for student body president. She was already living a life full of service and wanted to make a positive change in the world.
I coped with Laura's death in the only way I knew how: by becoming involved and trying to prevent more people from losing loved ones to gun violence. I became the legislative advocate for the California Chapters of the Brady Campaign and, since 2005, I have helped to enact over 55 firearm safety bills. Combining Laura's story, policy expertise, and the relationships I've developed in the State Capitol, I've been fortunate enough to effect positive change in California. Since 1993, California's firearm death rate has dropped 57% and I like to think that in even in death, Laura is saving lives.
Whenever there is another mass shooting, it always brings back a flood of memories of Laura's death. It is more important than ever that we speak out in favor of stronger gun laws to prevent senseless deaths of people like Laura, the Las Vegas victims in October, and the 93 people who lose their lives every day to this epidemic. Together, we can prevent more families from going through the horror of losing a loved one to gun violence.