Victims, survivors share heartbreaking stories at Emergency Gun Violence Summit in Milwaukee

NOW: Victims, survivors share heartbreaking stories at Emergency Gun Violence Summit in Milwaukee

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Local victims and survivors of gun violence joined Wisconsin leaders and organizations to share their personal stories at the Emergency Gun Violence Summit Thursday, and ultimately, push elected officials to pass "common sense" legislation in hopes of saving lives.

The nonprofit organization Forward Latino hosted the summit all day Thursday at the Hyatt Hotel in downtown Milwaukee.

Nationwide and across the Milwaukee area, people constantly hear tragic stories that occur due to gun violence.

"You almost turn off that little space in your heart when you're watching the news," said Darryl Morin, president of Forward Latino.

Local leaders and advocates are worried the public has gone numb.

"Thousands of faces, thousands of names, thousands of futures ended before they started, it's very easy to get numb," said Common Council President Ald. Jose Perez.

Perez said gun violence is a personal issue. He highlighted one name in particular: his niece, Aliyah Marie Perez.

"On Sunday, Feb. 26, she was taken from us in an act of domestic violence, and it was perpetrated with a gun," he said. "Her killer later took his own life; I've not said much publicly about this, but I and my family have learned just how much pain can come from a single moment."

Khary Pennebaker is another victim who spoke of mental health. He said his mother Joyce took her own life in 1979 at the age of 27, and it propelled him, for many years, to lead a life of advocacy.

"My mom shot and killed herself. There's nothing I can say, there's nothing I can do that's ever going to change that," he said teary-eyed.

According to statistics mentioned at the Emergency Gun Violence Summit provided by Charles Vear from the Medical College of Wisconsin, nationwide trends indicate gun-related violence is increasing. Vear gave a presentation indicating that in Wisconsin, young men between the ages of 15-34 have the highest rates of firearm deaths, with an overwhelming majority affecting the Black community.

Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson was also a guest speaker. He emphasized that peace across the city is top of mind.

"I want peace and I want safety, and I want fear to be diminished," said Mayor Johnson. "I want gun laws on the state level. I want gun laws, as well, on the federal level, that keep guns out of the hands of the people who should not have them."

A recent Marquette University Law Poll showed that the overwhelming majority of people in Wisconsin favor implementing universal background checks and so-called "red flag laws" that would allow police to remove guns from people found to be in danger of hurting themselves or others.

Share this article: