OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Dozens of community members joined forces Monday at a gun violence forum to learn how to make the metro a safer place to live.
“We feel it’s important to keep letting the community know that it exists, and we can do something about it,” said Judy Sherry, president of Grandparents Against Gun Violence. “That’s the important part.”
The keynote speakers were the father of a victim and the grandfather of the shooter in a 1994 killing.
Azim Khamisa’s son was killed by a 14-year-old while he was at work delivering pizzas. Khamisa and Ples Felix, the shooter’s grandfather, have traveled the country since the homicide to spread an anti-violence message.
“I saw there were victims at both sides of the gun, and I ended up forgiving my son’s killer,” Khamisa said.
There were also breakout education sessions throughout the day.
One of the forums was about student activism, led by one of the survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida. Sari Kaufman, a senior, talked about how to turn tragedy into action.
“It was such a long day trying to figure out who passed away and who was having surgery because of gunshot wounds and that’s really what pushed me. Gun violence is an issue and I had to experience it just one time,” Kaufman said. “And there are people who experience what I had to every single day, and that’s why it’s so important for me to speak out.”
Kaufman is a senior and travels around the country to speak at forums like the one held on Monday.
“It’s really important to understand that gun violence is a public health issue,” Kaufman said. “Instead of a political issue and that there are measures like universal background checks that are bipartisan and that everyone can support.”