To Christina, I never understood the tragedy of gun violence... until it took you

Updated: Aug 12

On June 10th 2016, Christina Grimmie was murdered.

She had her life taken from her.

Christina was a musician from New Jersey, who rose to fame on YouTube, and later appeared on The Voice USA. She was phenomenal and had so much love for everyone.

Credit - Kirsty Robson

On the 10th June, she played a concert in Orlando, just days before the Pulse nightclub shooting in the same city – and was killed as she took part in a meet and greet outside her show.

Armed with two handguns, ammunition and a hunting knife – this man travelled to Orlando, apparently just to murder her. When the gunman approached her, her arms were open. She was ready to greet him with a hug.

She was shot in the head once and in the chest twice. Christina died later that night. The desire of obsessive fans to harm is by no means new. Many of us found ourselves considering the parallels of the assassination of John Lennon in 1980.

She was 22 - her life had hardly been lived. Christina deserved so much better.

The Christina Grimmie Foundation cites that 99.98% of Americans will know a victim of gun violence in their lifetime. Ernest Coverson, Campaign Manager for the End Gun Violence Campaign at Amnesty International USA, stated back in 2019, in America "a guarantee of not being shot is impossible”.

Credit: Justin Higuchi

I feel fortunate to live in a United Kingdom where there is an incredibly low rate of gun violence, but it wasn’t always like that.

I didn’t know what it felt like to lose someone to gun violence. However, I’m Scottish – I grew up as our country mourned after the Dunblane massacre. That act of evil – the death of 16 young children and their teacher - holds a place in Scottish and British consciousness, and provoked a reaction unlike any other.

Thomas Hamilton entered Dunblane Primary School with four handguns and over 740 rounds of ammunition. They were all purchased legally and they resulted in one of the darkest days in our nation’s history.

Credit: Chip Vincent

Despite their monumental grief, some of the parents started the Snowdrop Petition, which gathered well in excess of 700,000 signatures in support of the tightening of legislation covering the storage, certification and ownership of firearms and handguns. A series of amendments were made to the Firearms Act as a result and the incoming Labour government passed legislation to ban most handguns.

We have the power to make change. We need to talk about gun violence, and we need to break the cycle. This heartbreak is still a reality for friends and families of victims across the world.

In Christina’s memory, I refuse to be silent. For every victim of gun violence, we have to make change.

Kirsty, who has worked in Holocaust and Genocide education and commemoration since she was 16, believes we all have a role to play in fostering a safer society for all. She has extensive experience in project management, outreach, communications and human rights activism. She is the Co-Executive Director and Head of Outreach for Yet Again and currently works in community outreach.

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