Cumming, GA

Gun violence: How the City of Cumming and a gun-owning mother are raising awareness

Justine Lookenott

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On June 8, the U.S. House of Representatives gathered to hear the testimonies of survivors of recent mass shootings(Image by Getty Images)

(Forsyth County, GA) On Wednesday, June 8, the U.S. House of Representatives gathered to hear the testimonies of survivors of the mass shootings that occurred in Buffalo, NY and Uvalde, Texas.

The Buffalo, NY shooting claimed the lives of 10 people while the Uvalde, Texas shooting ended with 19 children and two adults dead.

The House then passed H.B. 7910, or the “Protecting Our Kids Act.” The bill, among other changes, would ban the sale of magazines holding more than 15 rounds of ammunition, require stricter regulations concerning gun storage in homes and raise the age requirement to purchase semi-automatic rifles from 18 years old to 21 years old. The bill still has to pass the U.S. Senate.

While the Republican party has often stood against most types of gun legislation with most Democrats supporting it, party lines were a little mixed when it came to H.B. 7910.

The New York Times reported that 13 Republicans voted in favor of effectively banning the sale of bump stocks, 10 Republicans voted in favor of raising the minimum age to buy semi-automatic rifles (two Democrats voted against it), and four Republicans voted in favor of banning high capacity magazines while four Democrats opposed it.

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The location of the mass shooting that killed 10 people in Buffalo, NY(Image by Getty Images)

Gun violence is also being addressed at a local level in Forsyth County.

The City of Cumming recently acknowledged June 3 as “National Gun Violence Awareness Day” (also known as Wear Orange Day) and lit the ‘Cumming Home’ water tower bright orange for that weekend.

Orange is the theme for the day, which was the favorite color of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton who was shot and killed in Chicago in 2013, one week after performing in the inauguration parade for former President Barack Obama.

This was the first time the city recognized the day since 2019 after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic.

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The parents of Lexi Rubio 10, a victim of the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, testify during a House Committee Meeting on gun violence(Image by Getty Images)

Raising awareness in Forsyth County

In Forsyth County, one of the most conservative counties in Georgia, many activists fighting for gun legislation are gun owners themselves.

Courtney Spriggs is the chapter leader for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America in Georgia and a member of the Moms Demand Action Forsyth County group. She is also a gun owner, a former law enforcement officer and the wife of a Forsyth County Sheriff’s deputy.

‘Moms’ (a branch of Everytown for Gun Safety) is a “grassroots movement of Americans fighting for public safety measures that can protect people from gun violence,” according to its website.

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A recent "Wear Orange" event by the Moms Demand Action Forsyth County group(Image by Moms Demand Action)

Spriggs helped found the ‘Moms’ Forsyth County group in 2018 with a group of like-minded women. One of the founders is a graduate of Majorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, where 17 people were killed in a mass shooting in 2018. The group currently has over 120 volunteers.

She first became interested in gun safety while working as a sheriff’s deputy when 13 people were killed in a mass shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado in 1999.

“We want children, law enforcement officers like my husband and our families to live in a community free from gun violence.”

“I was in disbelief that no laws were changed then but even more so after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary,” Spriggs said. “I joined ‘Moms’ after the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, utterly disgusted at our legislator’s lack of action on responsible measures to prevent gun violence and determined to take action.”

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21 people were killed at the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas on May 24(Image by Getty Images)

Spriggs said ‘Moms’ is not against gun ownership, but advocates for “a culture of responsible gun ownership and supports the Second Amendment.”

In their official statement concerning their recognition of National Gun Violence Awareness Day, the City of Cumming also highlighted its commitment to the Second Amendment:

“The proclamation supports the wearing of orange on this day as a way to raise awareness of gun violence and to honor the memory of gun-violence victims who have lost their lives, while also supporting Second Amendment rights, local law enforcement officers and responsible gun ownership as ways to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals and keep communities safe.”

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The "Cumming Home" water tower was lit orange over the first weekend of June for National Gun Violence Awareness Day(Image Moms Demand Action)

Driven to action to stay safe

Spriggs believes the Forsyth County community is increasingly becoming more aware of the issue of gun violence and searching for possible ways to prevent it. She said they get new members every time there is a mass shooting, the Buffalo and Uvalde tragedies being no different.

She also noted the City's official recognition of National Gun Violence Awareness Day.

“Forsyth County citizens from all political backgrounds are sick of inaction on gun safety and politicians who pander to gun extremists and the NRA [National Rifle Association],” Spriggs said. “...so I think–like the majority of Americans–Forsyth County residents know gun violence is a preventable problem.”

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A recent "Wear Orange" event by the Moms Demand Action Forsyth County group(Image by Moms Demand Action)

When it comes to laws concerning guns, Spriggs said they use the phrase “common-sense legislation” instead of “the NRA-coined term, ‘gun control.’”

“Many of us, like me, are gun owners, who are tired of gun extremists warping the Second Amendment to line their own pockets or push their own dangerous agenda,” Spriggs said.

‘Moms’, ‘Everytown’, and Students Demand Action released a statement in support of the legislation that passed the House on June 8.

Spriggs has a few thoughts on what responsible gun ownership laws would entail.

“Personally, I’d love to see training required before a gun purchase (that is not a requirement in Georgia), background checks on every gun sale, secure storage laws and red flag laws with due process to temporarily remove guns from the homes of those deemed to be a danger to themselves or others,” Spriggs said. “I’d like domestic abusers disarmed (there is a federal law that requires this, but not a Georgia law, so Georgia law enforcement can’t enforce it).”

“Reasonable legislation” is something she believes can stop mass shootings and prevent gun violence.

Spriggs said they “want children, law enforcement officers like my husband and our families to live in a community free from gun violence.”

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The father of a Robb Elementary School student testifies at the House Committee Hearing on gun violence(Image by Getty Images)

For more information on National Gun Violence Awareness Day (or Wear Orange Day), visit wearorange.com. To volunteer with Moms Demand Action, visit momsdemandaction.org/act/ or text READY to 644-33. To contact Courtney Spriggs, email georgia@momschapterleaders.org.

If you have a news tip in Forsyth County, contact Justine Lookenott at justine.lookenott@newsbreak.com.

To learn more about Gun Violence Awareness Day in Cumming, read “Here’s why a Cumming landmark is turning orange this weekend.

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I cover local news in Forsyth County, GA. My debut into the writing world began at the age of 10 when I won an essay contest in Around Acworth Magazine in which I wrote about spending the summer with my pet goat, Eclair. Since graduating from Kennesaw State University, I have been published in several newspapers and magazines in the Atlanta area including The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Atlanta School Guide, What Now Atlanta, Newcomer Magazine, the Marietta Daily Journal and the Cherokee Tribune.

Forsyth County, GA
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