In 1993, in response to the gun industry’s expansive marketing campaign toward women, the surging handgun homicide rates, and believing that women are agents of social change, then 64 year old Los Angeles Police Commissioner Ann Reiss Lane co-coordinated with Betty Friedan, leader of the feminist movement and author of The Feminine Mystique, a national conference that articulated guns and gun violence as a women’s issue and a public health concern. This coalition of women and their families hoped to profoundly change the climate of the gun violence debate by working with elected officials, survivors, and communities. Out of this conference Women Against Gun Violence (WAGV) was born. Now, in 2013, both women and men make up WAGV’s Board of Directors as it educates the public, policymakers and the media about the human, financial and public health consequences of gun violence.

Traditional approaches to fighting gun violence have been largely limited to policy development and lobbying government to pass more restrictive firearms laws. While policy advocacy is essential and part of what we do, our founding innovative idea of taking on gun violence as a women’s issue and focusing on violence prevention on a community level forms the basis of our program work.

Speakers Bureau

WAGV’s Speakers Bureau is a substantive component of our other successful programs, providing the “heart” of gun violence. Made up of both adults and youth who have lost a loved one to gun violence or survived a gunshot wound themselves, Speakers Bureau members share their stories to educate and support others.

Dodgin’ the Bullet

Using a game show format, WAGV’s Speakers Bureau delivers to youth throughout Los Angeles County an interactive gun violence prevention workshop that addresses the issue of gun violence and its relationship to gangs, suicide, bully, and dating.

GunsSuck Initiative

WAGV has built a coalition of concerned citizens including policymakers, high school students, and PTA members to address the issue of billboard movie advertisements and transit shelter (bus) posters that depict and glamorize gun violence. The goal is to encourage billboard companies to voluntarily relocate their advertisements away from schools and high-crime neighborhoods.

Keepin’ Them Safe & Gun Lock Giveaway

WAGV and its Speakers Bureau work with parents in a role-play setting to teach parents when, what, and how to ask their neighbors and others if they have a gun in the home and what safety precautions are taken.

In a further effort to keep our children safe, WAGV is working with the Los Angeles School Police Department to distribute gun locks to the community along with materials explaining the important of keeping guns locked up and the legal consequences if you do not.

TALK

WAGV’s TALK program works with school districts throughout Southern California to distribute life-saving information to the parents of elementary school children.  Materials/Brochures include Talking With Your Children About Guns (available in both Spanish and English); ASK Your Neighbors About Guns (also available in both Spanish and English); and Lock It Up (Spanish and English availability as well).  Unintentional gun deaths by and of children can be avoided. Talk with your children about guns; Ask your neighbors about guns; Lock your guns up safely and securely; Keep all of our kids safe!

Outreach and Advocacy

Since its inception, WAGV and its Speakers Bureau have been leaders in encouraging advocacy for sensible firearms legislation at the local, regional and state level, and have reached out to hundreds of community members who are committed to reducing gun violence in Los Angeles County and throughout the state. By presenting current and accurate data to both the community and to policymakers while at the same time sharing tragic personal stories, WAGV has helped make California one of the leaders in sensible gun legislation.