On an East Bay Teenager Lost to Gun Violence 23 Years Ago

Yesterday, we lost another nineteen children to firearms

Juanita MORE!
3 min readMay 25, 2022
My niece. (Photo: Courtesy of Juanita MORE!)

In 1999 I lost my 13-year-old niece to gun violence. She was a vibrant, sassy, young person, whose laughter and smile always brightened my visits to the East Bay. She was also a smart ass. (Though, I have no clue where she got that kind of attitude from.)

There was a party for one of her friends at the home that my niece shared with her two older sisters, younger brother, and parents. She was hanging out on the porch with two teenage friends — ages 15 and 16 years old, at the time — on that cold late-winter night in February.

The two young boys were horsing around with a gun. They were pointing it at each other, pointing it at passing cars, and then one of them pointed it at my niece. I know my niece, and I know she looked that boy straight in the eyes and said “you wouldn’t dare.”

But he did.

Though the boys originally stated that someone else pulled the trigger, the two of them later confessed that they had killed my niece accidentally when one of them shot her point-blank in the chest while playing around with a loaded .380 caliber handgun.

I don’t know the boys’ names. I’ve never met them. And I don’t want to meet them.

The call in the middle of the night of the shooting was frightening and jolted me out of bed. I got to the East Bay from San Francisco and ran into the hospital she was being treated as fast as possible. Identifying her body was devastating to our family, and I still have visions of it today.

Once again, it has been heartbreaking to watch the news of the twenty-one people killed in the small town of Uvalde, Texas on Tuesday, May 24th, at 11:30 a.m. in the morning. We’re twenty-one weeks into the year, and the United States has already seen two-hundred-and-thirteen mass shootings; twenty-seven of those have occurred in schools.

The lack of gun control is, frankly, out of control. The ongoing massacre of innocent people in this country due to firearms is both infuriating and exhausting. It simply takes my breath away, each and every time this inevitably happens. Because it will continue to happen unless legislation is made and enacted to prevent it.

I will continue to fight and use my voice to help change gun laws in this country. Though, today I am overwhelmed with grief seeing the images of the young Latinx children lost to this completely avoidable massacre. My heart is with their families, and their suffering should be placed in the laps of every elected official in this country who does not immediately stand up for and make changes to gun-control laws.

The countless lives we have lost to firearms in the past five months alone were so much more than the violent acts that will come to define those deaths. Their lives were lost too soon before we even got to know them — before they even celebrated their twelfth birthdays.

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Juanita MORE!

High glamour, drag irreverence, danceable beats, culinary delectables, political activism and a philanthropic heart.