CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - More than 250 mass shootings have happened in America so far this year. That number is causing some to believe that gun violence should be considered a public health crisis.
“I think that this needs to stop,” Moms Demand Action Member Claudia Sandoval said.
Sandoval was a Sandy Hook Elementary School parent when 20 students and six adults were gunned down and murdered. Her twins were in the fourth grade at the time of the shooting. They were at the school at the time of the shooting. They weren’t hurt, but the pain of losing classmates and teachers is something Sandoval and her family will never forget.
“Nobody teaches you what to say,” Sandoval said. “A loss of a child is something you can’t even phantom.”
The mother has since moved from the Sandy Hook area and is now urging people to view gun violence as a health crisis. She has been busy getting the word out about how to end gun violence.
She has been working on a program that will feature the founder of Moms Demand Action, Shannon Watts.
Watts will be in town Thursday to have a community conversation about the issue. After her talk there will be a panel discussion to tackle gun violence as a health crisis.
Sandoval is ready for the conversation.
“I come from a science background,” Sandoval said. “And so I come from the belief that when we see our community, family members, neighbors getting hurt or getting ill - that we use research and we come up with methods to solve our problems.”
The Sandy Hook Elementary School mother says some states have stepped up to create stronger gun laws but she says the Federal Government is moving slow. She hopes the panel discussion will make a difference.
“Motivate others as well as the elected leaders that will be on the panel,” Sandoval said. “To others to hold them accountable - to make sure that the leaders are doing what they say they are going to do and also asking elected leaders to do more.”
She believes if gun violence is considered a public health crisis then resources will be given to help solve the issue.
“We are not anti-gun,” the mother said. “We are the counterweight to the gun lobby and we also are proponents of research going into solving our gun violence problem in America.”
The mother believes nobody should have to endure what she and others had to go through during the Sandy Hook mass shooting.
“I hope everybody contributes to the conversation that’s going on,” Sandoval said. “Don’t let this die down until the next mass shooting.”
On the panel will be Mecklenburg County Sheriff Garry McFadden, Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles, Congresswoman Alma Adams, Gun Shop Owner Larry Hyatt, Atrium Medical Director David Jacobs and Founder of the Cynthia Graham Hurd Foundation - Malcolm Graham. Graham’s sister was a victim in the Mother Emanual AME Church shooting where nine lives were taken.
The Community Conversation - Gun Violence: A Public Health Crisis - will happen Thursday night from 7 p.m.-9 p.m. at Johnson C. Smith University at Biddle Auditorium.