Among Kelly Cameron’s childhood memories is the image of her stepfather pressing a gun to the heads of her toddler sisters.
That’s how he tried to keep her mother from leaving him. He threatened to kill two girls, ages 2 and 3.
He was a “really great guy until he wasn’t,” Cameron said yesterday in Columbus, recalling her stepfather’s threats to a room of advocates who are trying to make it harder for people like him to buy a gun.
With the U.S. Senate scheduled to begin debate on gun legislation next week, gun-control supporters across the country met yesterday to discuss the link between guns and domestic violence, and to push for universal background checks for gun buyers.
Cameron was one of about 20 people who gathered around a table at a Downtown office. She’s a local chapter leader for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a group that formed after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings.
“We are making it too easy for the criminal,” Cameron said. “Some manage to wreak havoc on society if they want to, but we have to make it harder for them.”
Jay Plant, of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, which hosted the nationwide events, said universal background checks would save women’s lives. Citing coalition statistics, he said that 38 percent fewer women are shot to death by intimate partners in states that require a background check for every handgun sale.
Plant played the coalition’s new TV ad for the Columbus gathering. The commercial tells the story of Zina Haughton, a Wisconsin woman shot to death in a salon by her estranged husband. Haughton’s restraining order against him didn’t prevent him from buying a gun online.
“To combat violence again women,” Plant said, “we must do more to strengthen our gun laws.”
Sitting at the table yesterday was Felicia Saunders, a 47-year-old East Side resident whose life has nearly become defined by gun violence. She split from her husband eight years ago after he became addicted to crack cocaine, she said. She took out a restraining order as she pursued a divorce.
Although her husband had criminal convictions, she said, “he still carried guns.”
One day while she was at work, he showed up and pulled a gun on her teen son, Anthony Sowers II. Police intervened. The ex-husband went to jail, and Sowers was safe.
Four years later, the outcome was different. One summer night in 2009, a man popped out of the bushes and shot her son in his back. No one has been convicted in the shooting. Sowers, 22, died an hour later in the hospital.
By Lori Kurtzman - The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio (MCT)
©2013 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio)
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