When in Roam
February 1–7, 2021 — National Gun Violence Survivors Week
So last night we were in the Colorado University Emergency Department for the second time in three nights. Figure when you’re on the road for over three months out of a potential six, why not have the full experience?
If you’re checking out communities to live in, Healthcare Systems are important, right? You can review top ten lists and any additional data you can get your hands on, but there’s nothing like taking your own sniff test of the joint. And they’re not gonna let you check it out when you’re healthy. So, we had the opportunity to experience it firsthand!
I wrote this back at the Residence Inn in Boulder, CO, the next night, so we did have a happy ending. But to get those deets, you’ll just have to come back in a couple of weeks for When in Roam: Denver.
My Bride and I were sitting in the ER, awaiting an ENT Specialist to examine me. After five days of having a throat that even the most aggressive soreness couldn’t describe, I was tired of playing charades, and working on my miming. A wave of sadness washed over me. I was just spent. Then I was notified of this Facebook post below, by a wonderful man from Wayne, NJ, Bob Nulman:
I replied to Bob’s post with, “Bless you, Bob. I miss not having seen my dad for over 44 years. He was 47 when he was killed in a holdup. I was 17, and my two sisters were 10 and 14. I’ve missed his singing in the shower when he was happy, I’ve missed watching ball games with him, I’ve missed him lighting up stogies on long family drives, and I’ve missed him not being there physically to share all of life’s milestones. He’s with me every time I think about him in spirit, but it’s never been the same…”
I share this because, even as we’ve looked for places that may be our next home, a lot of what has attracted us to those places come from our past. From our experiences, and from the people that we shared those experiences with, the people that formed us. And that starts with our family. Our nuclear family growing up. And I feel those people with me, in a way they’re a part of me, where ever I go. My parents Sheldon and Ruth, and my sisters Allison and Fran-Ellen. Whether they’re living physically, or in spirit.
And I’m sharing this now because this week, February 1st -7th, is National Gun Violence Survivors Week in the U.S. As Bob’s graphic above stated, by early February, more Americans are killed with guns than are killed in other high-income countries in an entire calendar year. An entire calendar year. By early February.
Many of you reading this blog know the story of my dad, Sheldon Fertig, that I reference above. For those that don’t, here it is.
I was 17 years old when my father Sheldon Fertig was shot and killed and my mother Ruth was critically injured in a holdup in our family store. I had to tell my 10 and 14 yr. old sisters that our father’s life ended that morning and our mom wouldn’t be coming home from the hospital for a while. I left college, went to work in our store full-time until Mom recovered, and the first order of business was to mop up the dried blood from where dad’s life ended prematurely at the age of 47.
In addition to the physical loss of not having a dad, it caused irreparable harm to our family emotionally as well. We were just never the same after that. Then in February of 2019, my bride suggested that we attend a local Moms Demand Action Chapter meeting., A wonderful woman who is now a friend shared how as a teen her father was killed by her sister’s ex-boyfriend who got a hold of a gun that wasn’t properly stored. The story she told was of how it tore apart her family. Her story was the story of my family too.
That night I joined Moms Demand Action. That night I identified as a gun violence survivor — and I wasn’t at the scene when my father was killed. That night I became Man Enough to Be a Mom.
That’s my gun violence survivor story. But every day on average, there are 100 more Americans killed with guns according to the CDC. That rate is 10 x higher than any other high-income countries according to the American Journal of Medicine. And hundreds more are shot and wounded by guns every day.
According to the FBI, with two months remaining in 2020, the approximately 16.5 million background checks conducted between January and October for the sale or transfer of firearms and accessories eclipsed every other year on record.
And despite what the gun lobby says, statistics show that this spike in gun sales makes us less safe, not more:
With so many people self-quarantining, there are four increased risks to call out:
- Gun suicide is the cause of nearly two-thirds of all gun deaths in America each year
- Domestic violence always spikes during times of prolonged financial stress. And access to a gun in a domestic violence situation makes it five times more likely that a woman will be killed.
- Community violence — which takes a disproportionate toll in the same Black and brown communities that are impacted by COVID-19. Black children and teens are 14 times more likely than white children and teens of the same age to die by gun homicide.
- Unintentional gun violence. Approximately 4.6 million children live in a household with at least one gun that is stored loaded and unlocked.
For my money, the best summary analysis of our gun violence public health crisis was delivered by Senator Chris Murphy in this video in November 2020.
So, what can we do? A few ideas:
- If you’re not already a member of Moms Demand Action, you can join the nearly 6 million supporters and over 350,000 donors that are part of the movement. All you have to do is text 64433 and type the word HONOR to honor someone you know who’s been impacted by gun violence.
- If you are already a member go to your next chapter’s meeting. It’ll be virtual don’t worry.
- If you go to your chapter meetings, get involved in a project that maps to your interests. One of the great things about Moms is the resources we have — the fellow members and the staff are some of the most supportive, knowledgeable, and righteous folk I’ve ever met, and the training we have access to is tremendously helpful.
- Or consider donating at momsdemandaction.org or in honor of my dad, Sheldon Fertig here.
Or go to the Everytown for Gun Safety site to get informed.
Where do you think I got all this information from?
And for those of you who are interested, here’s a tribute to my dad on the Mom’s Demand Action site:
Here’s the first time I told my survivor story at Morristown Town Hall:
And here’s Miami Knight’s podcast Grief Talk, that I was honored to appear on:
Thanks for taking the time to read this, and thanks in advance for helping us reduce the senseless gun violence plaguing our country and for reaching out to your local elected officials to advocate for sensible gun laws — it works!
We’ll resume our usual programming with When in Roam: Durango.
Should be out before the end of the week.
Till then, stay safe, and healthy!