First active in the 1990′s, WAGV’s Speakers Bureau is a substantive component of its other successful programs, often providing the “heart” of gun violence.  Originally made up of both adults and youth who have lost a loved one to gun violence, had a loved one survive a gunshot wound, or survived a gunshot wound themselves, Speaker Bureau members share their story of gun violence in an effort to educate and support others.  Now, others with specific expertise in mental health, domestic violence, and gun safety legislation have joined the Speakers Bureau to share their knowledge with others.

Hollye Dexter

Having experienced gun violence in her own family – her seven-year-old brother Christoper was shot in the head by a neighborhood kid playing with his dad’s gun – Hollye Dexter has worked tirelessly as an advocate for gun reform. Through her award-winning nonprofit Art and Soul Programs, she worked for a decade with at-risk teens, keeping them involved in arts programs and off the streets. As an author/writer, she has had many pieces published on the subject of gun violence in Opposing Views, The Feminist Wire, OpEd News and more. Hollye has worked with the Brady Campaign, established the first Moms Demand Action chapter in Los Angeles and worked previously as Social Media Director at Everytown for Gun Safety.

In 2013, in the United States, more than 5 children a month under the age of 12 — more than 1 a week — were killed at a family member’s home or at a friend’s home by guns that were improperly stored and secured.

Marlys Nunneri

Shot at point blank range in the heart by her abusive ex-husband. Despite a history of abuse, the handgun that nearly killed her was purchased legally by her ex-husband at San Fernando Sporting Goods.

Abused women are 5 times more likely to be killed by their abuser if the abuser owns a firearm.

Julia Robinson Shimizu

Julia’s nephew, high on drugs, broke into a car, stole a loaded gun from the glove compartment, and killed an innocent bystander. Her nephew is now in jail and the repercussions for both the nuclear and extended family has been significant.

Over 1,000 people a day in the United States are directly affected by gun violence. This number does not include family, friends, and the community.

Rhonda and Ruett Foster

In 1997 Rhonda took her young son Evan to the park to pick up his soccer trophy and to register for basketball. Caught in the crossfire of assault weapons, Evan was killed and his brother, Alec, just 10 months old, was severely wounded. Rhonda was forced to make the choice of going with Alec to the hospital over staying with Evan’s body.

In 1989, California passed an assault weapons ban and continues to strengthen the law against the efforts of gun manufacturers to undermine it.

Joshua Stepakoff

In 1999, at the age of 6, Josh Stepakoff was shot in what is known as the Jewish Community Center shooting. Today, at the age of 20, he speaks out on behalf of gun regulation and offers words of encouragement to young children affected by gun violence.

9 kids a day in the United States are killed with a gun.

Lorraine Morland

Lorraine has lost two of her sons to gun violence on the streets of Los Angeles.

African Americans make up nearly 13% of the U.S. population, but in 2009 suffered almost 24% of all firearm deaths – and over 54% of all firearm homicides.

Anna and Fernando Del Rio

In 1999 at the age of 20, Anna and Fernando’s daughter, Teresa Del Rio, was killed while driving in Los Angeles. A stranger came out of the darkness on foot and shot her through the door of her car. She was the third victim of “Shooter for Gangs”.

From 1993 to 2001, an annual average of 737,360 violent crimes were committed with handguns in the U.S., making handguns seven times more likely to be used to commit violent crimes than other firearms.

For more information about these speakers or other members of Women Against Gun Violence’ Speakers Bureau, please email programs@wagv.org.