BOSTON — Greg Gibson sat down with the man convicted of a mass shooting at Bard College in Great Barrington, Massachusetts in the hopes a documentary they made would inspire national gun reform.
Gibson’s son died in 1992, and he says while the Bay State has some of the toughest gun laws in the U.S., it’s not enough. Nearly 1,700 children and teens die by gun homicide every year.
When Gibson lost his son Galen nearly 30 years ago in a mass shooting at Bard College, his son’s killer started writing him letters.
"My wish, and I assume the killer’s wish also, was to try to do anything useful to extract something useful," Gibson told Boston 25 News Tuesday.
Wayne Lo is serving two life sentences for the shooting spree that killed Galen, a teacher, and injured four others. And after years of correspondence, Greg decided to meet Lo face to face.
"This was not about forgiveness. This was not about closure. This was not about any of the Dr. Phil and Oprah stuff. I had a job to do," Gibson said.
That job was to inspire others to lobby for tougher guns laws not just in Massachusetts, but nationwide.
Gibson screened his documentary for lawmakers at the state house Tuesday with the non-profit Stop Handgun Violence Now and other gun violence prevention groups.
"I’m eternally surprised by how hard it is to get that 80 percent of Americans who say they favor better gun laws to put their clickers down, get off their couches and call their representative," Gibson said.
According to the CDC, 40,000 people die from gun violence every year. Mass shootings like Newtown and Parkland sparked national movements and marches. But Gibson says there’s more to be done.
Stop Handgun Violence founder John Rosenthal says the future of gun reform in Massachusetts is multi-dimensional, focusing on mental health resources, gun manufacturing reform, social and economic justice and getting the public more active in the fight for these changes.
Massachusetts has some of the toughest gun laws in the country, but illegal gun trafficking and urban gun deaths are still major issues.
"We need to drill down into the three communities in Boston and the few around the state where all the gun crime happens. Roxbury, Dorchester, Mattapan. You can get a gun way quicker than you can get a job," Rosenthal said.
State Rep. David Linsky says he’s filed a number of bills for gun violence prevention, including one that closes loopholes in the licensing process.
"This is something that’s eminently preventable. I don’t know how long it’s going to take to fix global warming. But I know what we can do to keep a crazy kid from a gun store in Great Barrington, Massachusetts from buying a gun and smuggling it back on to campus. I know what we can do about that," Gibson said.
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