Poignant Messages at Alexandria’s Safer Country Launch Party

Safer Country Executive Director Paul Friedman, Dusty Horwitt, Kristin and Mike Long and Pete Brodnitz. (Photo by Elza Daniel)

ALEXANDRIA, VA – The new bipartisan gun violence prevention nonprofit, Safer Country, officially launched during an event on November 20 at the home of Senior Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney David Lord and his husband, Greg Parks, Alexandria’s Clerk of the Court-elect.

Shocking Tragedies Unite Guests

Among the notable speakers and guests were Mike and Kristin Song, who lost their 15-year-old son, Ethan, when he was accidentally killed while playing with a gun in a neighbor’s home. Kristin Song shared the tragic story of their son and of their successful battle to pass “Ethan’s Law.” The law passed in their home state of Connecticut and is now before the United States Congress. It states unsafe storage of a firearm resulting in injury or death of a minor is a crime and punishable by up to five years in prison. It also makes it a crime if gun owners fail to safely store firearms in homes where a minor is present, with no exception for guns that are unloaded.

Mike and Kristin Long share their son Ethan’s tragic death due to gun safety negligence, and their quest to give meaning to his story by passing Ethan’s Law. (Photo by Elza Daniel)

Other guests present with a message included Andrew Goddard, a top advisor on gun issues to Virginia Governor Ralph Northam. Goddard’s son Colin, a survivor of the Virginia Tech tragedy, still has three bullets lodged inside him. Singer/songwriter Dusty Horwitt performed his original song, “Duty to Resist,” and Pete Brodnitz, a Democratic national pollster and President of Expedition Strategies, offered encouraging strategies.

The Safer Country Mission

“I lost a great aunt to a shooting during a robbery many years ago,” Safer Country Executive Director Paul Friedman said. “That [initially] motivated me to become the Executive Director for the Virginia Tech Victims Family Outreach Foundation.  While there, I learned the extent of the problems with our background check system nationally. In Virginia alone, the state police estimate that 55,000 convicted felons are not entered into the background check system. I decided a new organization was required to eliminate the database gaps,” continued Friedman.

Safer Country, whose motto is, “Keeping Guns Out of Unsafe Hands,” was founded by Paul A. Friedman to help reduce the incidence of mass shootings, shootings caused due to negligence, and suicides. “But its primary mission is ensuring that the names of legally prohibited persons, particularly violent criminals, are entered into the database of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS),” urged Friedman.

Other goals include ensuring the names of court martial-convicted criminals are entered into NICS, as well as providing research, education, and advocacy on red flag laws, fingerprinting at the point of sale, and safer storage laws for homes and vehicles.

To support Safer Country with a tax-deductible donation, text SAFERCOUNTRY to 41444.