By AUDREN HEDGES DUROY, age 9
Leah Gunn Barrett is the executive director of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence (NYAGV). Her nonprofit organization recently released a video in which real people expected to purchase a gun, but left after learning the tragic history behind each weapon. The video went viral.
Audren Hedges Duroy: What inspired you to become a gun control advocate?
Leah Gunn Barrett: In 1997, my older brother, Greg, was shot and killed in his business in Tulsa, Oklahoma. That completely changed my life. I was living in London at the time, and was very upset to learn that the gun laws in America had been so lax since I moved away. When I returned to the United States, I decided to help prevent other tragedies from happening.
What inspired you to create the fake gun shop?
Our goal was to get Americans to think carefully about the decision to own a gun. Do guns really protect you or are they more likely to be used in a homicide or unintentional shooting?
What other advocacy methods do you use?
We have an educational program in several New York public schools, called reACTION. The program takes students to Albany each spring, where they advocate for laws that will keep guns out of the wrong hands and where they can tell their personal stories of how gun violence affects them.
Do you have any advice for young people who want to become effective gun control advocates?
Yes, you can volunteer at organizations like NYAGV, or start a club at your school. You should get to know your elected leaders and call and write to them to ask them to support gun control laws.