Almost 25 years ago, Women Against Gun Violence (WAGV) was created after acclaimed feminist Betty Friedan approached WAGV founder, Ann Reiss Lane, with the challenge of taking meaningful action to stem the public health epidemic of gun violence affecting communities.

Over the past two decades, the women and men who make up WAGV’s Board of Directors have taken on that challenge and then some through both its program work and through legislative action.

Partnering with numerous legislators, community and activist groups to craft and enact what are the most stringent gun laws in the United States, WAGV has been part of many significant California legislative milestones. From the banning of assault weapons, to the prohibition of junk guns and armor piercing ammunition, to the more recent laws against loaded, unsecured weapons in the presence of children, and a measure helping law enforcement determine if a troubled person owns guns, WAGV has been front and center in the longtime movement to keep children, families and communities healthy and safe.

Our innovative programs working with survivors of gun violence, parents, caretakers, and youth have been replicated nationwide. Gun violence survivors tell us that sharing their stories with others has helped them reclaim their lives. Parents and caretakers have told us that the lessons learned from our Keepin’ Them Safe Program have helped them protect their children from unlocked guns. And youth who have participated in our Dodgin’ The Bullet program have shared that we have helped not only them understand and avoid gun violence but have also helped them reach their friends.

Women Against Gun Violence has two active front-burner programs, our TALK Project that emphasizes safe gun storage; and our Education For Action series of salons and summits that brings together activists, community members, policy makers, and experts to engage in creative problem solving and develop new approaches to address gun violence.

TALK

The TALK Project is the only comprehensive gun violence prevention program in California working with Greater Los Angeles School Districts, PTAs, pediatric health centers, and the Los Angeles City Attorney’s office. Using both Los Angeles County school districts and pediatric health centers as distribution vehicles, The TALK Project puts life-saving information in the hands of over 500,000 Southern California elementary school families – printed materials available in Spanish, English, Korean and Armenian, that help parents and caregivers talk with their friends, neighbors, and family about guns and safe gun storage. These written materials are accompanied by TALK’s 1-hour parent workshops – for gun owners and non-gun owners alike. The workshops include role-play activities and free gunlocks — all with the purpose of making the conversation about guns and safe gun storage routine, non-adversarial, and not political.

Education For Action

For many years WAGV has hosted a series of intimate educational salons that have included guest speakers Adam Winkler, author of Gunfight: The Battle Over The Right To Bear Arms In America; Lisa Bloom, author of Suspicion Nation, The Inside Story Of The Trayvon Martin Injustice And Why We Continue To Repeat It; Connie Rice, author of Power Concedes Nothing: One Woman’s Quest For Social Justice In America, From The Courtroom To The Kill Zones; Lonnie and Sandy Phillips, who took on gun and ammunition sellers after their daughter Jessica was killed in the Aurora, Colorado movie theater massacre; and most recently Josh Koskoff, the attorney who is representing the Sandy Hook families in their effort to hold Remington Arms, the maker of the Bushmaster AR-15 rifle responsible for the deaths of the 20 young children who were slaughtered.

In September 2016, WAGV hosted the first Firearm/Suicide Summit held in Los Angeles City bringing together experts in the field of suicide with experts from the gun violence prevention movement to share information and discuss innovative approaches to lethal means reduction. The Summit was well attended and reached an extended audience through live streaming. It resulted in the Los Angeles City Council requesting the City Attorney’s office draft an ordinance requiring gun stores and ranges to post suicide prevention information.

In September 2017, WAGV hosted its second teach-in specifically addressing Guns, Ammunition, and the Laws That Govern Them.  Representatives of the LA Police Department Gun Unit, the LA Sheriff’s Department, and an attorney with significant experience in implementing and defending gun laws shared their expertise with an audience of activists.

This October, WAGV, the Los Angeles and San Fernando Valley Chapters of the Brady Campaign, the Gun Legislation Advocacy Committee of Temple Isaiah, and Peace Over Violence will host their first Firearm/Domestic Violence Summit.  Speakers include LA City Attorney Mike Feuer, journalist Melissa Jeltsen, and Mark Wynn, an expert in the relationship between law enforcement and domestic violence.

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.

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.

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.