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Sunday, December 4, 2016

For an activist, Kathleen Glueck is exceptionally polite. When speaking, she reflexively checks her tone, careful to not monopolize a conversation.

“I’m rattling on too much,” she says, unnecessarily apologetic.

After sending me data to make her case, she writes, “Don’t want to inundate you with too many reference materials cluttering up your email!”

Bring it on.

America needs to hear more from the likes of this Cape Cod grandmother. And they will. Despite her gentle demeanor, Glueck admits she is “a dog on a bone” about gun violence.

There is a reason why. She has eight grandchildren. One was a 4th grader at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT the day Adam Lanza went on his rampage with assault weapons.

Glueck’s grandson survived. But he heard the entire killing spree — the screams, the gunfire, the pleading — while hiding inside a cabinet meant for storing musical instruments. Lanza killed himself outside the classroom.

“I can’t take away the grief and lifelong challenge for my family,” she said. “But I just have to do something.”

Grandmothers Against Gun Violence is her something. (Visit the group’s website at www.capecodgag.org).

This is how social change occurs. Bit by bit, voice by voice. As Glueck points out, society didn’t always think smoking was bad for the lungs. We didn’t always use seatbelts or find it necessary to pick up after our dogs in the park. But people do now, reflexively even, without question.

Grandmothers Against Gun Violence began inauspiciously in January, as the creation of another concerned grandmother, Linda Alhart of Cummaquid, MA. Alhart wrote a letter to her local newspaper after the Newtown murders expressing dismay at the bloodshed.

People began to contact her, echoing her desire to create a safer community, proposing some outlet for their grief. They began having gatherings that quickly outgrew Alhart’s living room. You just need a heartbeat to join, they say. The members press the message that they are not against guns, just gun violence.

Now, Grandmothers Against Gun Violence has more than 100 members. It has pending 501(c)3 status, meaning contributions will be tax deductible. Alhart is looking into forming chapters in other states. And they’ve affiliated with the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, along with a few other gun safety groups.

Like the handful of mothers who founded MADD, and the bereaved sister behind the breast cancer foundation Susan G. Komen for the Cure, and the father whose passion helped initiate the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Grandmothers Against Gun Violence are committed and vow to be tenacious.

What they will not be is argumentative, at least not in the conventional manner we’ve come to expect in the gun control debate.

Grandmothers Against Gun Violence are not itching for a fight with the National Rifle Association. (As it happens, Glueck’s father, an avid hunter, was a member.) They are bipartisan and uninterested in belabored dissertations on the Second Amendment.

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