As I have done many times before, I asked myself, what can I possibly do to stop the needless murder of children?
I remember the school shootings in Columbine, Newtown and Parkland. I became numb to it all, thinking this is a “normal” part of life. This time, though, I also remember my son crying as he learned about the too-short lives of the 19 children and two teachers.
As a father and a rational adult, I had to do something.
On June 3, 2022, I cold-emailed GIFFORDS Gun Owners for Safety: “How can I get involved in your organization to support responsible gun ownership? I am tired of watching kids die!”
That was it. No long explanation, no huge backstory. At the end of the day, that’s all that mattered: Children should not have to die because of lawmakers’ cowardice to take action.
Since that day, I’ve worked closely with GIFFORDS to fight for gun safety laws. And now, GIFFORDS is launching a new chapter of Gun Owners for Safety here in Georgia. I’m proud to be a part of this growing coalition of responsible gun owners.
I’ve owned guns for more than 15 years to keep my family safe. My wife and I keep guns in the house, securely stored where our son can’t access them. I’m not a hunter, but I met a lot of them through Gun Owners for Safety and learned how to skeet shoot. Some others are like me, who wouldn’t have any idea how to hunt a deer, much less field dress one. Together, our coalition can show Georgia that gun owners are not a monolith to be used or exploited as the gun lobby sees fit.
At our core, we believe commonsense gun safety laws don’t infringe on the Second Amendment— rather, they save lives.
Gun Owners for Safety is taking back the narrative from the gun lobby. After the shooting in Uvalde, we met with legislators on Capitol Hill to prove gun owners stand with survivors, demanding they pass what is now the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. In Colorado, we testified to ban ghost guns and now the state is safer from untraceable guns used by criminals to bypass background checks. We rallied on the front steps of the Michigan State Capitol, and the legislature passed several commonsense gun safety laws including universal background checks.
Georgia is now the 9th Gun Owners for Safety chapter and we’re ready to start changing the dangerous laws that were passed in the gun lobby’s interests.
In Georgia, anyone can carry a loaded gun in public without training or a background check. Someone in a suicidal crisis can buy a gun without a waiting period, and law enforcement at the request of loved ones can’t take the gun away because we don’t have an extreme risk protection order law. Georgia’s gun laws are so weak that we export crime guns at more than twice the national rate, increasing gun violence in other states and arming drug cartels in Mexico.
Georgia also has a Stand Your Ground law, which thrust our state into the national spotlight in 2020 when three white men chased down and shot and killed Ahmaud Arbery while he was jogging.
While those men who killed Arbery are serving their time, they used Georgia’s Stand Your Ground law as a poor excuse, as many do, to try to cover up their bigotry. Georgia is home to the Civil Rights movement. We cannot allow prejudicial policies like Stand Your Ground to be law in our state. It’s that kind of fake “vigilante justice,” John Wayne propaganda sold by the gun lobby that goes against every reason why I own a gun. For me, owning guns has always been about self-defense, and even then, it’s a last resort.
Georgians deserve real, commonsense measures that keep our communities safe and promote responsible gun ownership. We have a lot of work to do, but Gun Owners for Safety is ready to hit the ground running.
If you’re a gun owner who wants to change Georgia for the better, you can find a home with GIFFORDS Gun Owners for Safety: a big-tent coalition that includes people across the political spectrum, hunters, collectors and even NRA members. I joined this coalition specifically because it’s putting forth solutions — but I fight for a safer future because of my son.
Andrew Ziffer is a husband, father, 30-year Georgia resident and a proud member of GIFFORDS Gun Owners for Safety. He had a 20-plus-year career as an IT professional and is now a partner in a commercial real estate business.