‘School death toll is a wake-up call’

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A mother who has heartbreaking personal experience of the devastation that can be delivered by America’s lax gun laws has spoken of her hopes for change in the wake of the school massacre that has shocked the world.

Glenda Lee’s son David was only 10 when he was left paralysed after being shot by his drug addict step-brother.

She believes that the USA must accept tougher gun laws to protect innocent victims.

American-born Glenda, who fled to England 15 years ago to escape America’s galloping gun culture, says she was devastated when news of the Connecticut elementary school shooting, which claimed the lives of 20 children and six adults, hit the headlines. She believes it is a wake up call for the country.

“I cried all day. It just threw me back into the day when my son was shot,” said Glenda, who lives in Berkhamsted.

“Connecticut is the last place you think it would happen and that is a tap on the shoulder.

“I think this is a gigantic wake up call to the United States.”

David, now 32, and married with two young boys still lives in America.

He was shot by his heroin addict step-brother in 1991 while visiting his father.

Unbeknown to Glenda, who now works to help drug and alcohol addicts, David’s 16-year-old step-brother was a heroin user and his parents kept a gun in their home.

After that fateful day Glenda threw herself into campaigning for tougher gun laws and young David, who is confined to a wheelchair, became a poster boy for the fight.

They managed to get two bills passed in California in 1993.

Now adopted by many other states, they order that guns should be kept under lock and key, makes adults responsible when children are injured by guns that are within easy reach and requires safety training to be given when guns are purchased.

Glenda, who was raised in Alabama, wants a mandatory gun turn-in and for the country to adopt similar gun rules to those in England.

“The common denominator of every single horrific massacre in the United States is that anyone and their mother can buy an assault rifle, which means you can shoot very fast and you can shoot many bullets at the same time,” she said.

“I would like to see it the way it is in England.”

She moved to the UK in 1997 with her daughter Stephanie, who was then 11, after David had left home to go to university.

Glenda, who is a services manager for Hertfordshire Drug and Alcohol Recovery Services, believes President Barack Obama is the man to see in the radical changes on gun laws.

“First and foremost he is a father. He has a heart. He doesn’t owe allegiance to the National Rifle Association,” said Glenda

“Maybe that is why he was re-elected – I always believe there is a reason for things but I believe you have to pay attention and I believe he will.”