Diana’s advocacy work in Washington

In addition to the work I have done last year with the Yes Institute, I’d like to share my advocacy work regarding gun violence control laws, particularly lobbying at the federal level for Ethan’s Law. This legislation aims to criminalize access to firearms when minors are present at home, contributing to the protection of children and minors from the risks of gun violence.

In June, I had the privilege of meeting Nancy Pelosi, and in December, I participated in a meeting at the White House in the Vice President’s office. On other occasions in December I advocated on Capital Hill to gain co-sponsors for 6 gun violence prevention bills. At that time I lobbied alongside other survivors including those from Sandy Hook, Uvalde, Las Vegas, Parkland and Lewiston mass shootings, as well as with parents and relatives who had lost loved ones from gun suicides, unintentional shootings and murders.

The fist stories shared during these meetings are profoundly harrowing; for instance, hearing an 18 year old Sandy Hook survivor recount how as a six year old she had to crawl along school corridors avoiding the body parts from her best friend to escape the shooter. This is an experience that will haunt me forever.

Through this advocacy work we were able to secure the co-sponsorship of 6 gun violence prevention bills, including Ethan’s Law, from numerous senators including Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand.

At the National vigil for survivors of gun violence, where the church was full of many senators and the VP’s husband, I was the only parent advocating and to speak out for LGBTQ children.

We are currently advocating for Francesco’s Law in the state of New York. This new law if passed will criminalize access to guns in New York State when there are minors at home.

The present law makes it a misdemeanor which is not a big enough deterrent to ensure minors are not able to access guns thereby harming themselves or others. Assemblyman Anderson’s office, Gifford’s Law, Newtown Action Alliance, GLSEN, the gun control advocacy community and other prominent organizations have all extended their support, along with Ritchie Torres from the 15th district of New York.

4.2 million children live in homes with access to guns. The LGBTQ community is at 4 times the risk of suicide. Nearly 30% of Generation Z identity as LGBTQ. These figures make it obvious that the gay community is at a very high risk from gun violence – not to mention hate crimes from guns.

Only recently, an Oklahoma senator referred to the LGBTQ community as ‘filth’. With guns widely available in states like Oklahoma, and homophobia commonplace, it is even more likely LGBTQ youth will be the victims of gun violence either through murder or suicide.

I have also visited…

  • The Trevor Day School in NYC Upper School and PTA.
  • The University of Florida as their guest speaker and North Eastern University in Boston as a guest speaker.
  • Nova Southeastern University in Florida and Boston where I stressed how important it is that guns are safely stored away from minors – and that LGBTQ children are especially vulnerable because they are at 4 times the risk of suicide.
  • Grad schools as a guest speaker addressing psychology students – many of whom will carry on to work in schools and with teens.

Written by: Diana Cochran