My daughter, Christina-Taylor, had a sparkle to her; she was smart and thoughtful and so eager to make the world a better place. She loved politics and had wanted to meet Rep. Gabby Giffords. We often wondered whether she would grow up to become the first woman to occupy the Oval Office. Instead, her life was tragically cut short in a hail of gunfire outside a Safeway supermarket.
We lost our 9-year-old daughter two years ago, during the shooting rampage in Tucson that left six dead and 13 others seriously wounded -- including Giffords. It forever changed the course of our lives, and my husband and I still wonder today why God would take our beautiful baby girl from this Earth so young.
Laying my daughter to rest was something we never should have had to do. Christina-Taylor was robbed of an exceptional and beautiful life. She had so many big dreams and so wanted to be a "star." I know she could have excelled at anything she put her mind to. She never got the chance to even attend high school, graduate from university, get married and have children.
There are too many parents across the country -- in Tucson, in Newtown, in big cities and small towns alike -- who have experienced the anguish that we have suffered. There are too many little coffins filled with children who were taken from this world too early.
But for the first time in years, Americans everywhere have said enough to the bloodshed and enough to the madness of more than 30 Americans being murdered with guns each and every day. From Tucson to Newtown, people across the country have demanded action from their leaders in Washington.
In January, President Obama and Vice President Biden provided us with a renewed sense of hope when they put forth a comprehensive plan to reduce gun violence in America. Today, it's up to Congress to make sure this reform becomes a reality.
Have our elected officials forgotten how our nation felt after Tucson, after Aurora, after 20 innocent children were gunned down in an elementary school classroom in Connecticut?
Their parents haven't forgotten. I haven't forgotten.
We need our representatives in Congress to act, and we need them to act now. No more grieving mothers. No more carnage. No more children not coming home to their parents.
We can't let the memory of our perished loved ones fade. We need this country to be as good as Christina-Taylor imagined it to be. Americans need to keep demanding action. By Roxanna Green
I never got the chance to be 'Daddy's little girl'
Sad to say, I don't remember a whole lot about my dad: He was stolen from me right before I turned 5 years old.
Most women have wonderful stories about their dad taking them to father-daughter dances, about going to get ice cream with him, or the time he wiped their tears when a boy made fun of them.
I've even laughed at my girlfriends who were afraid to introduce their boyfriends to their dads. But I don't have those intimate stories to share.
I never got the chance to be "daddy's little girl," to be spoiled by the first man I was supposed to love. And he didn't get the chance to walk me down the aisle. For that, I missed a major part of who I could have been today.
Not to say that my mother wasn't sufficient. She was a dedicated, wonderful mother who was more than enough.
Still, I can't help imagine what my life would be like if my dad wasn't killed on Chicago's South Side on his way home to his family. If he were alive, would I be a different woman? Would I have younger siblings? Would I be a better wife and mother?
So I have very few photos and memories, but tons of questions.
All I know is that he loved me very much. I adored him, his nieces and nephews adored him. He worked very hard, he loved his family and he loved God. He died on the way home from church.
Unfortunately, because three immoral people decided my father's fate, I have to rely on the memories of my mother, aunts, uncles and cousins to know my own father. Guns in the wrong hands robbed me and forever changed my life. By Tenisha Taylor Bell
I lost my brother and best friend on his birthday
On July 20, 2012, a gunman walked into a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, and fatally shot my older brother, Alex Sullivan, on his 27th birthday. With one bullet my brother was pulled from my life -- present and future.
Since this senseless act of violence, my family and I have experienced an emotional and physical roller-coaster that is impossible to tell in words. Whether it's taking a stance on the need for gun law reform in the United States or attending court hearings, the ride is never-ending.
Through every twist and turn during the last 8½ months, I replay the "am I equipped for happiness?" mental dialogue. Unlike the many other sad times I have experienced, this time I don't have my older brother to guide me back to the light with words of encouragement, laughter or just some brotherly comfort.
I lost my first best friend, my voice of reason, the best bear-hug-giver, and my light in the darkness. I am now left as an only child taking on responsibilities never meant to be mine.