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We can't stop fighting if we want to stop gun violence

Dear Evanston,

As you're probably aware by now, eight students were shot, and an 18-year-old student killed, in a shooting at the STEM School in Highlands Ranch, Colorado yesterday.

That was exactly one week after two students were killed and four more were wounded at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte. There, Riley Howell, 21, was shot in the head at point-blank range.You've probably seen the by-now routine, too-familiar photos from yesterday of frightened students lined up with their hands over their heads, hysterical parents coming to "family reunification sites" to find their kids, as they are evacuated from their classrooms.

Did you know that yesterday's shooting was the THIRTY-FIFTH school shooting in this country this school year? That's on top of the daily shootings in Chicago and around

the country. And we're far from immune from gun violence in Evanston.

In fact, as I write this post, the Evanston Police Department has just tweeted, "EPD is in the area of Sherman and Lincoln after a silver Jeep that was seen fleeing the area of a shots-fired crashed."

For a short time as I've been writing, Evanston Township High School (ETHS) and Orrington Elementary School were under lockdown.

If you're as angry as I am--and feeling overwhelmed and hopeless--don't! We can't afford hopelessness. We must demand action, we can't ever give up, and we must act ourselves!

As Tribune columnist Heidi Keibler Stevens said in her column this morning about the incredible people working day and night to change our gun laws and stop gun violence in this country:

"They know change is a marathon, not a sprint. They know a lot of lives are being lost, damaged, forever altered while we wait." We have to join -- and stay in -- the race.

So what can we do?

1. This Saturday: Moms Demand Action-Evanston is having a meeting from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. If you can go--go! Email Dear Evanston for the address and a link to register (walk-ins are also welcome).

They'll be discussing #FixtheFOID, proposed legislation for HB96 that would close loopholes in the existing requirements and procedures for obtaining a Firearm Owner ID card (FOID), loopholes in Illinois state law that were brought to light after the tragic shooting at Henry Pratt Company in Aurora in February that allowed the shooter to have easy access to guns despite a previous felony conviction.

2. Sign the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence's petition to #FixtheFOID.

3. There'll be a rally in Springfield on May 22 ... I'll update info about it as I get it.

4. Learn about the recently enacted Firearm Restraining Order (FRO), the potentially life-saving civil court order that allows individuals to file a restraining order that prohibits a family or household member’s access to firearms, in the event that you believe they are a risk to themselves or to others.

5. Participate. The Illinois Council on Handgun Violence will present a community discussion on gun violence prevention and the FRO law from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 20 at the Evanston Public Library.

6. Get involved in one or two of the many outstanding nonprofits in Evanston that work on issues of poverty, mental health, racial equity, educational equity, affordable housing, and more, to help fix the issues that can lead to hopelessness and gun violence in our own communities.

Here are just a few of them.

Let's not lose hope in the face of this onslaught of horror. We can all work together to make change.

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