BURLINGTON, Vt. – Donna Dees, organizer of the 2000 Million Mom March that advocated for stricter gun control laws, lead a discussion on preventing gun-related domestic violence at Main Street Landing Film House Wednesday evening.
Before the discussion, Dees presented her documentary “Five Awake,” which details the journey of five Louisiana women who worked to change their state’s laws to protect domestic violence victims.
“Five women in Louisiana were told it could not be done,” Dees said. “That, in a state that has on its license plate ‘sportsman’s paradise’ and has one of the highest rates of gun ownership, they’re never going to do anything about any restrictions, and so the film is about what they did.”
In the discussion following the documentary screening, she was joined by Clai Lasher-Sommers, executive director of GunSense Vermont and Kelly Dougherty, executive director of Steps to End Domestic Violence Vermont.
Lasher-Sommers told us her personal history with domestic violence lead her to the career she has now.
“I was a child of domestic violence,” Lasher-Sommers said. “I was shot when I was 13, and that’s how I came to this work.”
GunSense Vermont was heavily involved in pushing Governor Phil Scott to sign several bills tightening Vermont gun laws.
“It was an amazing experience to watch Governor Scott sign the bills,” Lasher-Sommers said. “I think he took the threat seriously in Fair Haven and listened to people around him that they need to do something.”
Meanwhile, Dougherty outlined some of the specific issues facing Vermont as it pertains to domestic violence.
“Sometimes in Vermont we like to think that we’re immune from violence, but as a domestic violence provider, I can tell you that we’re not,” Dougherty said. “It’s tricky, because it’s something that if you haven’t experienced it or you don’t know someone who’s experienced it, it’s hard to believe it actually happens.”