September 9, 2021 Blog
The Alliance at the Evergreen State Fair
Last week I had the pleasure of joining my first tabling event with the Alliance for Gun Responsibility at the Evergreen State Fair in Monroe, WA. The Alliance team sets up tables at events like the State Fair with the hope of interacting with new community members. As a newcomer to Washington, I was unsure about how the event might go or the reactions we would garner; however, we experienced several significant interactions that I will keep with me forever. In these experiences, I received different glimpses of America and the state of gun violence prevention in our nation.
One of my first memorable interactions was with a gentleman who arrived at our table with both questions and statements. He is a gun owner and wanted to make it known—an interaction that can be alarming without knowing a person’s intentions. We informed him that our work is to prevent gun violence in our communities and shared how we achieve that vision. Even amidst some differently aligned views, we concluded that people deserve safety—safety in their homes, in their schools, and their communities. He shared that he believes in safe storage and we thanked them for his efforts.
While I am pretty sure we continue to have different views, he did agree to take literature from our table and to read up on us more. That moment gave me hope that anyone, regardless of “sides,” indeed can join in on the fight to end gun violence. A fight that promotes a culture of gun ownership that balances rights with responsibilities. In the end, the older gentleman, a war veteran, mentioned how much he loves this country and how we all must do something to improve it, to make it better for ourselves and the future.
Speaking of the future, my most favorite interaction that day was with a lady who had several children with her; I suspect she was taking them all on the last trip before school began. While I like to think that everyone naturally is fascinated with learning from us, I’m also realistic enough to know that the yummy candy at our table might have had something to do with their visit. But I’ll live blissfully in ignorance for now. Once all the children arrived, she had us explain what our table was about. While explaining Gun Violence Prevention could seem like a scary task to children, I’m very proud of how our team executed that discussion. The unfortunate truth is that our children already know the reality of gun violence in America and sugarcoating it is no longer effective. The children explained their memories of active shooter drills, which never is easy to hear. We explained how our work is to prevent gun violence and keep them safe enough that those drills would hopefully not be needed. The lady leading this group thanked us for our time and the education and even asked us to meet with her 4-h group for further discussion. At that moment, I also received two feelings: first, a wave of defeat that we continue to leave our children unsafe in their communities; however next, a wave of hope at the thought of connecting with our youth and informing them of ways that they can make a difference in their communities.
While we only tabled for a day, we made some memories that will last a lifetime. I enjoyed our time connecting with people from all walks of life, educating them on the important work that we do (and how they can help), and discussing how we all can work together to keep our communities safer for all.
— Tremayne Edwards is Education and Engagement Director at the Alliance