7/2/2014 7:20:00 AM Disability rights, gun control advocate speaks out
Jennifer Longdon, disability activist and gun control advocate, speaks at a Democratic Women of the Prescott Area luncheon at Stoneridge on May 28. Longdon, who was injured by random gunfire in 2004, supports a United Nations resolution on disability rights for all countries.
In 2004, after a random shooting incident, Jennifer Longdon said she went from being an athlete, mother and entrepreneur to using a wheelchair.
"And guess what? I'm still an athlete, mother and business owner," the Phoenix-based disability activist said to about 45 people at the Democratic Women of the Prescott Area luncheon May 28 at Stoneridge.
Longdon spoke on two upcoming legislatives actions, one dealing with expanded background checks for gun owners, and the other supporting a United Nations resolution on disability rights.
People with disabilities make up one of the largest minority groups, Longdon said, in which one in five - or one in three, depending on which research study one reads - will experience a disability. Almost 60 percent of adults with disabilities who are able to work are unemployed, and they are twice as likely to abuse alcohol or illegal drugs because no one will employ them, she added.
"We are not the freeloading parasites we are often portrayed to be," Longdon said.
Historically, the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act became what she called "the gold standard of civil rights for people with disabilities." She would like to see countries worldwide adopt that standard.
She appealed to audience members to contact U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake and ask him to join Sen. John McCain in voting to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
In November 2013, McCain voted for ratification; Flake voted against. The measure was defeated, but is expected to come up for vote again.
In a similar outcome, Longdon said a measure to expand universal background checks on people buying guns was defeated with McCain voting yes and Flake voting no.
She cited statistics of gun violence, accidental discharges and suicides by gunfire, then talked about what it means to her to be a gun owner.
"I own a gun. Owning a gun comes with some responsibility to use it well," she said. "My gun will outlive me, and I'd like to send it on to its next owner responsibly."
She also would like to see a law passed that would strengthen prohibition of firearm possession to include those convicted of stalking. In states with more stringent gun laws, she said, deaths by firearms of women dropped 38 percent.
Toni Denis, president of the Democratic Women of the Prescott Area, ended the one-hour presentation and lively question-and-answer period, saying, "I think it's important we have these discussions. How else are we going to work it out?"