By Amanda Wilcox, Legislative Chair, Brady California
Over 30 years ago, I started making donations to Brady. I felt that I needed to do something to stop innocent victims from being shot every year. Like so many others, I never thought that my life would be impacted by gun violence, but 18 years ago in 2001, my daughter, Laura, was killed in a mass shooting. The shooter’s family and girlfriend, as well as a caseworker, all had serious concerns about his access to guns due to strong warning signs. But because he had never been placed under a psychiatric hold, he wasn’t banned from obtaining or owning guns.
Had an extreme risk law been in place 18 years ago, Laura might very well be with me today.
I’ve spent my life since then dedicated to working with Brady to pass stronger gun laws and prevent more tragedies. I became the legislative advocate for the California Chapters of Brady and, since 2005, I have helped to enact more than 70 gun safety bills. Combining Laura's story, policy expertise, and the relationships I've developed in the State Capitol, I've been fortunate enough to effect positive change in California. We were the first state to allow family members or intimate partners to petition a court to prevent at-risk individuals from temporarily obtaining firearms. This law has saved lives. Since 1993, California's firearm death rate has dropped 57 percent and I like to think that even in death, Laura is saving lives.
After I testified before a U.S. Senate panel on the need for extreme risk laws, Sen. Lindsey Graham said he saw a path forward for bipartisan legislation to save lives.
Read the transcript of Amanda's testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the need for extreme risk laws.
Saving lives is not a partisan issue. As a mother whose daughter needlessly lost her life, I ask our lawmakers to support extreme risk laws.
Half of state laws currently in effect were signed by Republican governors, and these laws have been passed by both Democratic and Republican-controlled statehouses. In red, blue, and purple states across the country, polling shows that these laws are wildly popular.
Making extreme risk laws available throughout the country will, without a doubt, prevent multiple forms of gun violence every day — those tragic cases where an individual takes their own life and the needless bloodshed when someone brings a gun into a place of learning, worship, or recreation.
In 2001, Laura was killed in an instant by four bullets. In the aftermath, I was overwhelmed by the permanence of her death. Laura was gone forever. That is why extreme risk laws resonate with me; one can always give a gun back. I cannot get her life back.