Just five weeks ago, a gunman killed 20 local school children and six adults. And as the small Newtown, Conn. community and nation try to cope, parents in Northern Michigan are taking action.
"Being a mom of a 13-year-old son, it's devastating to hear about these school shootings knowing that many of these are being perpetrated by children my own son's age," said Traverse City mother Kate Daggett. "And so being aware of the safety and accessibility of guns to children or young adults is a very important conversation that parents need to have."
Joining that conversation at the "Newtown is Our Town: Peaceful Forward Motion" panel: school leaders, law enforcement, health officials, and concerned parents. A step forward in preventing a tragedy like Newtown from happening in our town and our schools.
"This evening really helps all of us... educators, parents, community members, just understand the concerns about safety in the home and how that plays out in other environments in the community, like a school," said Rick Vandermolen, Traverse City Central High School Principal.
Behind the words: "Be clear, be bold," and "be brave," stands one Northern Michigan mom's project: "Gun Safe Mom." Her goal: to come up with recommendations on school safety, mental health and gun violence prevention, and simply, to spread awareness.
"This is not about gun control and gun ownership," said Missy Carson Smith, "Gun Safe Mom" CEO. "This is about safety, and parents engaging and connecting with each other to protect our children."
But this mom of four's motivation stems from a story of personal loss. This Saturday will mark the 27th anniversary of her brother Jeff's death.
While looking back on her reason for fighting: a picture of her then 12-year-old brother, killed by another classmate, this "Gun Safe Mom" said she is simply doing what she feels is necessary. Starting a conversation.
"Everyone looks to me and says, 'well are you pro gun or are you anti gun,'" said Missy Carson Smith. "And I say, 'I am pro parenting and pro safety.'"