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Opinion

Love, Freedom, Reason & Peace: A Voice For Change

April 5, 2019
Perri Schwartz

Sandy Springs, Georgia, United States

It was November 2, 2018, when a man fired shots in a yoga studio in Tallahassee, Florida, killing two women, including my former babysitter Maura Binkley.

I didn’t know about her death until I woke up the next morning. I was scrolling through Facebook, and I stumbled upon an article about the shooting, and she was identified as a victim. Little did I know why this had to happen. It shouldn’t have happened.

Maura was from my hometown of Atlanta, which is why this tragedy hits so close to home.

Immediately after I found out, I pledged to fight gun violence in her memory. I made the ultimate decision to become an activist for gun safety. I joined March For Our Lives - Georgia, and I am a huge part of the legislative committee.

Recently, Maura’s parents, Margaret & Jeff Binkley, launched Maura’s Voice, a nonprofit started in her memory to research and understand the relationship between mental illness, hate, and gun violence. 100% of donations will fund research towards all three issues.

Lindsay Chapman, one of Maura Binkley’s former roommates and a sorority sister, grew up 3 hours away in Orlando, site of the Pulse Nightclub mass shooting. That attack in her hometown in 2016, combined with Parkland in February 2018, and Maura’s tragic shooting death less than 9 months after in Tallahassee, has left Chapman with emotional scars.

“I really think it’s changed the person I am and how I view things. Especially with the division this country has currently, it’s really important to have people like (Maura) that want to make a change. It’s hard to know that someone like her, who wanted to stop these horrendous acts, is gone.”

— Lindsay Chapman, former roommate and sorority sister of Maura Binkley

Audrey Benson, lifelong best friend of Maura Binkley, gives a speech about who Binkley was during a gathering to celebrate the launch of Maura’s Voice on the steps of the Florida Historic Capitol in Tallahassee, Florida on March 4, 2019. — Photo: Tori Schneider/The Tallahassee Democrat

Julia Schifino, former roommate of Maura Binkley, helps paint a mural for Maura’s Voice to celebrate the launch of the foundation at the Florida Historic Capitol in Tallahassee, Florida on March 4, 2019. — Photo: Tori Schneider/The Tallahassee Democrat

Jeff Binkley, father of Maura Binkley, speaks to the crowd gathered at the launch of Maura’s Voice on the steps of the Florida Historic Capitol in Tallahassee, Florida on March 4, 2019. — Photo: Tori Schneider/The Tallahassee Democrat

Friends and family members of Maura Binkley wore pins that said “For Maura” in her remembrance at a gathering to celebrate the launch of Maura’s Voice at the Florida Historic Capitol in Tallahassee, Florida on March 4, 2019. — Photo: Tori Schneider/The Tallahassee Democrat

On February 27, the first gun violence prevention bill passed the House of Representatives in over 20 years. H.R. 8, or “The Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019”, will update the background check system, and close the dangerous loophole in which anyone can simply buy a gun through a private seller.

A bit of information about the bill and what it means:

Currently, federal law requires licensed sellers to perform background checks on prospective buyers, while unlicensed sellers are not required to do so. Gun offenders overwhelmingly obtain their guns through private sales. This is called the “gun show loophole”.

The “firearm background checks”, which is what the bill refers to, shows what we have in place right now: customer shows I.D., completes a form and goes through an instant criminal background check.

These background checks are processed through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), and in at least 90% of cases, are determined immediately (within 90 seconds in most cases). Not only are they accurate, but effective.


This bill is not only simple, but it also has the potential to save countless lives. I believe that this loophole is the one that we need to close in order to protect the people of our country.

Perri Schwartz is a BBG who hails from B’yachad BBG #2495 in Greater Atlanta Region. She loves history, news, and politics, and plans on being a journalist in the future

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