Welcome to Common Gunsense
I hope this blog will provoke some thoughtful reflection about the issue of guns and gun violence. I am passionate about the issue and would love to change some misperceptions and the culture of gun violence in America by sharing with readers words, photos, videos and clips from articles to promote common sense about gun issues. Many of you will agree with me- some will not. I am only one person but one among many who think it's time to do something about this national problem. The views expressed by me in this blog do not represent any group with which I am associated but are rather my own personal opinions and thoughts.
Thursday, August 5, 2010
In memory of my sister and victims of domestic shootings
It's not uncommon to read a story in the news or hear it on local T.V. news that a man in a difficult relationship with a spouse or partner has shot the woman to death. Often these men then also shoot themselves in an act of cowardice to avoid the consequences of what they did. The most dangerous time for a woman in an abusive or difficult relationship is when she is leaving or has just left the relationship. Domestic Abuse organizations know this to be true and try to get this word out to those who are vulnerable. But usually, people don't want to believe that a spouse/partner or ex-spouse/partner is capable of such an act of violence. Even in those relationships that involve abuse or actual violence women just can't believe that that person would kill them. The lucky ones who do fear for their lives show up at shelters or other organizations to help them. I volunteer at one such organization and am on the Board of another. The Family Justice Center ( associated with the Safe Haven Shelter) sees dozens of women in a week who come for Orders for Protection and for the services provided at the center. These women are so grateful that someone is there for them. It may save lives and every time I am there, I know that I am doing something to help the lives of women in need.
The other organization, DAIP or Domestic Abuse Intervention Programs, is an amazing local organization that has grown in 30 years to be a national and international training facility, teaching law enforcement, legal and social services communities how best to deal with domestic abuse events as they are happening and the aftermath of a domestic abuse incident. I am proud to be a Board member of an organization that has changed the lives of men who abuse, the women they abuse and their families. It, too has saved the lives of many brave women who dare to seek help. The creation of the "Power and Control Wheel" has transformed the way domestic abuse is seen by abusers, the women who are abused and the people who work with all of them. Their Coordinated Community Response is a model used all over the world, known as the Duluth Model.
I am involved with these two organizations along with the gun violence prevention organizations at the local, state and national levels for one main reason. On this day, 18 years ago, my sister, Barbara Lund was shot to death by her estranged husband. I did not find out about the shooting until August 6th due to the fact that my now deceased ex brother-in-law stayed in his house with two dead bodies overnight and then got himself a lawyer before law enforcement and the family were informed. So Aug. 5th, 1992 changed the course of a my life and changed the lives of two families forever. ( Kevin Kelly, also shot that day, was with my sister when she stopped at my ex brother-in-law's home to deliver some papers to him.) Who knew that a difficult and protracted divorce frought with disagreement about a financial settlement would end in 2 senseless shooting deaths? I could talk more about the undiagnosed mental illness of my brother-in-law but won't here. I could talk more about the fact that he loved his guns and had many of them hiding in various places in his home, but I won't here.
This only happens to other families. Of course, what I have learned is that shooting deaths happen to any type of family and everywhere. Just because it hasn't doesn't mean it won't. So here I am, doing things I never anticipated 18 years ago today. I now belong to a club whose membership I did not seek. It is a large club- no membership fees other than a life lost and the grief in dealing with the lost life. Whole communities are affected by one shooting in one family. My sister had friends all over the country who were stunned to hear that this beautiful, vivacious, fun loving woman was shot to death. My friends were affected. My ex brother-in-law's family was affected. His children by his first marriage loved my sister almost as much as her own did. It is a testament to her loving nature that they are all still very close and consider themselves all one big family, including former spouses and their children. My mother, at age 95, is the grandma and great grandma to them all. My mother, who endured the shooting death of her first husband ( my sister's father) when she was a young woman and left with a one year old, also endured the shooting death of her first born child. My father, who adopted my sister and loved her like his own, did not live long enough to feel the grief of a lost child.
Barbara's spirit lives on with her family. Her children are all adults and some have married and have their own children-children who will never know their grandmother. So that is a brief explanation about how I got to what to where I am now. It is not a place I want to be and I wonder now how different my own life would be had she not been murdered. But we can't go backwards.
So on this day, I will keep her in my thoughts. Way too many of us mark days like this yearly as we remember loved ones lost to a bullet. The local chapter Board in Duluth has 4 women who have lost loved ones because of a gun. Two lost beautiful young daughters and one a brother and, of course, me. We ring the bell to remember them. Every day in America there are 32 gun homicides and 80 total deaths due to guns. That is too many. It's time for our elected leaders and the public to listen to the victims.