Age 27 , New York
My younger brother Matthew was shot in the head during a terrorist attack on the observation deck of the Empire State Building on February 23, 1997. His dear friend and band mate Christoffer Burmeister was killed in the attack.
Matt was always one of my heroes. Before he was shot he was the lead singer and songwriter for the popular band the Bushpilots. He was literally a rock star. He was one of the most charming, charismatic and talented people I’ve ever known. So much of that was taken from him by a single bullet. Now he is my hero in a different way as he copes every day with the challenges of living with a traumatic brain injury.
But as terrible as this tragedy has been for Matt and our family, we also realize how much worse it could have been, in fact how much worse it is for the 90 families every day, 33,000 every year whose loved ones don’t survive. Most of these tragedies don’t make national headlines as my brother’s did, but they are every bit as devastating to the families that are affected.
The man who shot my brother and killed Chris couldn’t legally buy a gun in New York. So he took advantage of lax laws in Florida that make it easy for dangerous people like convicted felons, domestic abusers and terrorists to get their hands on guns. After staying in a motel for a few days, he got a Florida ID card, bought a gun, and drove back to New York to commit an act of terror.
I am sharing Matthew’s story because I believe, as a nation, we are better than this and that we can do so much more to keep guns out of the hands of people who are dangerous and intent on doing harm. I am sharing to give voice not only to my family but to the millions that have been impacted by gun violence and to the millions more who have simply had #ENOUGH and are ready to hold our elected leaders accountable to make this the better, safer nation we all want and deserve.