There are over 100 Americans that die each day from gun-related violence. Gun safety is needed more than ever right now in the United States. There need to be some common sense policies that can find a common ground for pro and anti-gun control. This is something Texas Gun Sense, an advocate for preventing gun violence in Texas, is fighting for.
Join Claire Campos O’Neal and Nichole Abshire as they talk to the Executive Director of Texas Gun Sense, Nicole Golden. Learn how Nicole and the Texas Gun Sense are advocating for new laws and policies on gun safety. Find out why weak gun laws are being passed and how people can fix that. Discover more about the second amendment and its loopholes. Know how you can help prevent gun violence today!
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Is There Any Common Ground On Gun Safety? Nicole Golden With Texas Gun Sense Explains The Landscape (Culture Wars)
We are eager to share this episode with you. We speak with Nicole Golden. She helps us dig into common sense gun reform. How would you frame this, Nichole?
I would say that, gun control, gun violence, or gun issues.
When I started talking to her, I was like, “Nicole, you’re here to tell us about guns.” Nicole is incredible. She works for Texas Gun Sense. Their organization is very much about putting forth common sense policies to find that middle ground between allowing people to be gun owners and also allowing us to live in a world where we don’t feel constantly fearful of gun violence. A lot of us feel that way. I’m going to say I feel that way.
It’s hard not to. What Nicole does such a good job of is explaining the places where there is common ground among most Texans, the places where we could look for some solutions. Their agenda isn’t radical. She walks us through what some of these reforms could look like.
She is such an expert in this field. It’s interesting how we talked to people who are in the advocacy space. This is something that grabbed her attention. She shares with us that has started with Sandy Hook. This is the work that she does. We’re appreciative that she’s there fighting this fight because we do need some changes to happen because gun violence is on the rise. How do we help lower that and get it more under control? Nicole does a great job giving us some solutions and explaining the lay of the land. Check out this episode. You’re going to like it.
We are excited to have Nicole Golden with us. She is going to help us understand how guns work in Texas, gun control, and gun sense. She knows so much about this area. We want to understand what is going on with our state and the policies behind guns. There we go. Nicole, thank you for being with us. We have you here to help us make sense of this big issue, especially in our lovely, wonderful state that likes its guns. Before we get into all of that wonderful information, can you tell us a little bit about you and your origin story and if you’re from Texas? How you got to where you are now?
People love to assume I’m from New York. I kind of am, but not really. I lived there as an adult for a couple of years, but my family moved to Texas when I was three. I’m from the Northeast. I grew up in Dallas. I came to Austin for college. For the most part, I’ve been here all those years since, give or take a little bit. I was raised in Texas.
All those formative years. I have to ask, where in Dallas?
Me, too. What high school?
Richardson, their rivals.
It feels like another lifetime ago because I’m much more of an Austinite now. We have some family here and there, but I’m raising my kids here in Austin. Austin’s home.
You’ve been around the state. We’re a political show. We also like to know a little bit about what it was like growing up for you. Was your family political? Did you guys talk about political issues?
I feel like we do more now, but also doesn’t everybody. I knew my parents’ values pretty clearly. Whether it was specific to politics, I’m not sure, but it didn’t take over as many conversations I feel as it does now. My parents are passionate about their political beliefs. Their values and beliefs came through. Mine were set pretty early, but I wasn’t engaged or interested or active in them until I was well into my adult years.
Was there a specific thing that turned you onto it or was it a gradual process?
I was always interested in issues and in being a member of a society that’s here to do good. I got my Master’s in Social Work when I was younger. I was going to do something, but that something turned into gun violence prevention only because of the way the Sandy Hook school shooting affected me. I didn’t have a cause before that. I look back now and I think, “How did I not have this cause?” You don’t know what you don’t know. Sometimes there are pivotal moments that grab you and change the course of your life. That’s what happened to me. While there are a lot of issues I care about and I’m somewhat educated in, this is the one. This is the path I’ve chosen to dedicate my time to and my career in life, too.
I can totally relate to that sense of once you are turned on, that light is turned on, and you can’t imagine what it was like before.
You think, “What could I have been thinking that I wasn’t all along doing this?” That’s the way things work. That was a traumatic event. There was my life before that and my life after that. I almost feel guilty saying that in a way because I didn’t lose anybody personally. It pales in comparison to the grief of actual survivors of that event and others. It did change the course of my life.
That’s great though. I want to say that it didn’t take such a deeply personal loss in that way to be animated by something that was important. If we all had to be that affected, that would be a rough life.
Can you tell us a little bit about your work with Texas Gun Sense and how you found yourself with that organization? What was the lead-up to that like?
I’ve told you a little bit about the lead-up already. You know that the Sandy Hook school shooting lit that fire in me. I became active in gun violence prevention at that point. I was the parent of young kids at the time and a stay-at-home mom. I had a Social Work degree I wasn’t using as a professional at that time. I was grief-stricken. When I got my bearings and decided maybe I’m going to look for something to do, I did online searching like a lot of people do when they’re like, “Where do I get plugged in? What organization needs me?”
I found a Facebook page that eventually became the organization Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America that everybody knows about now because it’s a huge organization that’s been successful in this decade. I became the Austin group leader of that group. At the time, we were small. I was one of those early people who grew this thing out of nothing, but I didn’t do it alone. I did that for years. I knew Texas Gun Sense because we were the two main groups working on this issue. I’m here in Austin and so was the staff of this organization. We would do a lot of partnership work at the legislature.
Some years went by. I continued to volunteer. I enjoyed that. I learned a lot and I met a lot of people. At some point, I decided to go back to work. I tried a couple of other things. I veered a little bit away from doing gun violence prevention. It was pulling me back. I took a position at this organization. The executive director left not long after. I moved up. I was hired in the spring as the executive director. I found my way as a volunteer leader in the beginning to being a career advocate in this field.
What’s the mission of Texas Gun Sense?
Texas Gun Sense advocates for preventing gun violence in Texas through education partnerships and policy change.
We have talked about how we want to get into the meat of this conversation pretty quickly. I’ve shared with you a little bit that for me, mass shootings take up a lot of my emotional energy. They grab headlines. It’s the thing that stops us all in our tracks when they happen. Unfortunately, so often it’s become such an epidemic. I wondered, are mass shootings increasing in frequency the way that it feels? Do you know statistically what’s true there?
I can tell you that in general, the gun violence rate has been increasing. Gun violence comes in many forms. Mass shootings are one form of gun violence, particularly traumatizing in a large-scale form. They put us in this position as a society where we’re afraid to send our kids to school, go to the grocery store, and go to a movie or a mall. They still do comprise a fairly small percentage of overall gun violence, but that doesn’t take away from how horrific they are and how urgently we need to address them because no one wants to go on living like this.
When you look at gun violence by the numbers, overall, it has been escalating and increasing here in Texas and across the country. There are 45,000 gun deaths now a year. Over 100 Americans a day that is unique to our country, no pure nation experiences, anything like that. Here in Texas, there are a little over 4,000 gun deaths according to recent data. That is an increase from where it used to be more in the mid-3,000s.There are over 45,000 gun-related deaths a year and over 100 deaths per day in America. Click To Tweet
A lot of those are firearm suicides. That is true in all states with some variety in terms of specific numbers. Here in Texas, 60% plus of gun deaths every year are firearm suicides. Some populations are disproportionately impacted like veterans. That’s also pretty true across the country, but it includes Texas. There are other groups that are impacted by daily gun violence in disproportionate ways such as Black and Brown communities.
We use the term community violence when we talk about that or interpersonal violence. It’s violence in communities in which people may know each other or live in the same community. Not all communities are experiencing that daily barrage of gun violence in the same way. There’s domestic violence, which is a crisis in and of itself.
Here in Texas, guns are responsible for the majority of deaths through intimate partner violence. There are a lot of ways we can break it down. There are a lot of tactics we need to use to address it, whether that is suicide, community violence, domestic violence, or mass shootings. There’s not a one size fits all solution, but certainly doing nothing isn’t an option because it is indeed an urgent crisis.
What are some of the things that are contributing to this increase in gun violence?
I certainly don’t want to have anybody assume that I’m a researcher by education or that I have all the answers as far as the whys. I can say that there’s an enormous gun ownership rate in this country. There are many guns in circulation in the United States. There are weak gun laws. That’s pretty obvious. They do vary from state to state. There are some restrictions at the federal level. There are some base requirements for gun ownership and gun carry, but they’re fairly minimal. For example, if someone is convicted of domestic abuse, they are considered a prohibited purchaser.
When you get into some of the fine details, there’s a lot more that we could do to keep guns out of dangerous hands and have better oversight. When you get into states, then you see real big differences in law. There are states that have done a great job bringing down their numbers of gun deaths, homicides, and suicides through reasonable measures and common sense policies. There are states like ours that have unfortunately been pretty opposed to doing that and have instead gone in the direction of further weakening our already pretty loose gun laws. All that’s happening amidst an escalating crisis. You can connect some of those dots.
Nicole, can I summarize what I’m hearing, which is that obviously, we know where we live and we know what the laws are here. Maybe we don’t understand all of the underlying whys for the increase in gun violence, but we can certainly compare laws among different regions and the level of gun violence that different places experience. Something that you can trace is that with some common sense gun restrictions, there is a reduction in the amount of gun violence.
States that have strength in their gun laws have seen lower levels of gun violence and states with legal laws are seeing higher. There’s a connection.States that have strength in their gun laws have seen lower levels of gun violence, while states with weaker laws are seeing higher. Click To Tweet
There’s a straight line there. I feel like sometimes there’s all this pointing of its mental health fits all of these things, and maybe so, but maybe this is an assumption I need to check. It feels like we’re not researching the validity of a lot of the claims that feel like sometimes made haphazardly. The one thing that does sound clear is that with more restrictions come fewer deaths.
There’s an argument for stronger gun laws bringing down deaths. While being able to balance that with the right of responsible gun owners should they choose to own and carry firearms, there can be a balance. I believe in all advocates of this work believe that we can do both. Most Americans agree with that. That includes the Texas public as well.
I’m curious, and I had this thought as I’m looking over the questions we had prepared. What is it like buying a gun in Texas now? Can you walk us through what requirements are in place and which are no longer in place?
Every state, Texas included, has to follow federal requirements. There is a list of individuals who may not be able to purchase a gun if they were to walk into a gun store or to a gun dealer and apply. They would fail a background check, for example, if they had been convicted of domestic violence or under certain protective orders, had a felony record that’s within a certain period of time.
This can get a little fuzzy, but it’s not just anyone who is suffering from mental illness, but someone who has experienced a crisis to the extent that they have been determined by a judge to be unable to safely purchase a gun. That’s going to depend on case by case. If that appears on someone’s record, they would also be prohibited. If you are under 21, you cannot purchase a handgun, but you can purchase a rifle. 18-year-olds can purchase rifles, but you have to be 21 to purchase handguns. A lot of people don’t quite understand why that is, but that’s the case here in Texas.
If you go to a gun dealer, you have to undergo a background check. You have to wait a short period of time for your background check to come through. After scanning those things I mentioned, then you can purchase a firearm. I’m sure you hear this a lot. People talk about loopholes. What are loopholes? What they are is that only federally licensed dealers are required to run a background check. Anyone who’s working behind the counter at a gun store, that’s going to include them. If you go to a gun show and the person selling is a federally licensed dealer, they have to run a background check no matter where they’re selling it.
If you go to a gun show and a collector is selling, they are not federally required to run a background check. If you go online, for example, there are websites like Armslist.com that connect buyers to sellers privately. You arrange with someone who’s getting rid of their gun to meet them somewhere and make a purchase, like a Craigslist purchase. They don’t have to run a background check.
That’s totally legal. They could do that.
Can I dig into you about background checks? I want to wrap my mind around specifically, there’s a system that you plug somebody’s name into. What’s that?
I want to make sure I’m telling you the right thing. It’s through the FBI. It’s the NICS system. When a federally licensed dealer takes someone’s application, they run it through that system.
This is a federal system.
Any seller in any state is going to have to run a background check to scan for these things that are federally required. Some states, because their legislatures have decided to strengthen their gun laws, may have additional requirements. They may require a background check on every gun sale. Some states have closed their loopholes. That goes back to what I was saying earlier about stronger gun laws that have reduced gun death. That’s been the case with states that have closed their loopholes. We in Texas have not. We don’t have a legislature that’s supported closing loopholes here. The only standard we have is what I told you.
Closing loopholes would be things like?
Requiring a background check on every gun sale. Person-to-person sales also have to include a background check. If people were to connect through a private transfer, they wouldn’t maybe need to meet at a gun store and have the background check run there before that transfer can be made. I’m playing out the scenario. Here, you could go to a parking lot and get that transfer and no check is necessary.
I’m thinking about this argument I hear a lot regarding things that if we put in more measures, bad people are still going to get guns anyway. What is the response to something like that?
I’ve heard that one for a lot of years. I’m an honest advocate. I wish we could prevent every shooting because every one-gun death is one too many. We won’t prevent every shooting, but we can put in reasonable measures to ensure that individuals with dangerous histories are not able to easily access firearms and cause generations of trauma for Texas and families.
It is not a one size fits all. There are policies and measures at the community level we could put in to reduce firearm suicide and other measures we could put in to reduce mass shootings or school violence. I feel like it all needs to be on the table. We all need to take part in being part of the solution that includes mental health advocates, domestic violence advocates, and all the voices that we need to hear responsible gun owners included.
What’s your starting place?
Our mission is threefold. We work both on policy advocacy and education and in developing strategic collaborations and partnerships. Those are the three pillars of our advocacy. Starting with policy, and that’s timely because the legislative session is coming up in January 2023, there are policies we’ve supported for a long time that we know we need here in Texas. Whether we can see it become a reality now or later down the road, we still want to voice how important they are. Those would include background checks on every gun sale. The legislature finally acting to do that is something most Texans support. Also, initiating extreme risk protection orders. They’re also called red flag laws quite often.
You might have heard them call that to temporarily and legally, through due process, separate someone from their firearm in cases in which lethal threats are being made with immediate lethal harm may occur to one cell for someone else and there is access to a firearm. Safe storage education to prevent unintentional shootings, suicides, and other preventable gun deaths.
Those are some of the high-level priorities that are long-term for us, but we’re always looking to move the way the needle in smaller ways. We’ve broadened our work to include what other little, small ways we can find to move the needle that can bring people together that maybe isn’t so contentious because we’ve had a hard time getting political consensus around a lot of the measures that I mentioned to you.
We look at, “Can we move any budget writers through the legislature to get some funding for safe storage?” We’ve been successfully doing that before we want to come back and try to do that again for an educational program. We are looking at some community-based initiatives that we can lift up that are outside of our legislative work, things like working in coalitions to in with veterans and gun owners to try to reduce firearm suicide. See if there are some ways we can expand voluntary storage and opportunities for people in crisis.
We’re looking at creating opportunities that maybe we have to get a little creative and we have to be nimble in this work because we don’t hold the political power at the moment to pass a broad sweep of gun reform policies at this time, unfortunately. We’ll stay at it because they’re important. Most Texans want to see those things move forward.
I want to talk more about the legislature and what’s happened and what we think’s going to happen in the future. Before that, we should lay a little bit of groundwork because when you talk about guns, inevitably, the Second Amendment comes up. Can you tell us what the Second Amendment says, especially in regard to gun ownership in America?
The Second Amendment does protect the right to responsible gun ownership. Individual citizens have the right to own a firearm privately. There is precedent for that constitutional right to have to be balanced with reasonable restrictions. Even Justice Scalia himself said years ago that, like many of our rights that are granted to us, there have to be some reasonable limitations in place. That’s the way that we and many view the Second Amendment. We can balance it, but with policies and measures that also ensure that guns aren’t ending up in dangerous hands or places where they may not belong, sensitive places like schools or bars.
We include things like training. We say you have the right to own and purchase and keep a firearm, but it’s important to have training for your safety and your community. Here in Texas at the last legislative session, we passed permitless carry. Our long history of responsible gun ownership was pretty trampled on by removing the requirement to undergo some basic live fire training and safety handling training in order to carry a loaded firearm in public in the state. We feel that that goes against the spirit of responsible gun ownership that most people were perfectly happy to have to take those steps to do. Now it’s not required anymore.People have to undergo basic gunfire and safety handling training in order to carry a loaded firearm in public. Click To Tweet
Can we talk about those common-ground things? From the statistics that I could see, there is considerable common ground among all Texans. It seems to be concentrated around the support of red flag laws, thorough background checks and permitting, like having some licensing.
Why can’t we get there?
What’s the disconnect? If the majority supports this, then why does it feel so far from reality? It’s deeply disturbing. It can keep any of us awake at night. Through the many years that I’ve been doing this work, I will tell you. I’m not saying this because I’m a pessimist, but I’m a pragmatist. I have seen the issue sadly here at the legislature where I’ve been active for a long time become even more contentious and difficult than it already was. That is disappointing because we always approach this work as common sense, common ground, bringing everybody together. Most Texans support this. Gun owners, too. It doesn’t matter what your political party is.
That remains true. We are not losing public favor, that’s for sure. People are distraught by what they’re seeing happening, especially at Robb Elementary in May 2022. That hit everyone super hard regardless of background. The polls reflected that. There is a disconnect between what the public supports and the way that our lawmakers are voting on this issue. That is frankly because The Gun Lobby, which is a powerful group for years, had the goal and intention to systematically block every attempt to strengthen gun laws in every state and nationally. Also, to water down our already subpar gun laws as well.
They hold a lot of power. They have relationships with lawmakers. The political landscape is what it is. We don’t hold political power right now. The unfortunate thing is that those who are making the decisions are not making them on behalf of their constituents when it comes to this issue or maybe other issues. Our issue in particular has gotten deeply wrapped up in an unfortunate political battle.Those who are making the decisions about gun control are not really making them on behalf of their constituents. Click To Tweet
In your time working in the Texas legislature, have you seen anything that has broken through? We can talk about in the past session how folks are allowed to carry guns now without a permit.
There’s no licensing.
Even police forces were saying, “We don’t like this potential law you all want to put in place.” There are many things pushing in your direction, the advocacy work you’re doing, and yet we’re still not seeing this common-sense reform. Has anything broken through that you think would break through?
Here’s one thing. What I have seen broken through is a real swelling of support that in the earlier days of my advocacy wasn’t there. People were a lot quieter, both people in the public, people we all know personally, and lawmakers. Even the ones that now have become vocal and outspoken for this cause were quieter in the beginning. There were whispers of support. The advocacy that’s been happening on the ground for so many years and being unflinching and standing strong has empowered our leaders to step out in front on this issue.
I want to give a message of hope on how much I’ve seen change over the years in terms of the public dialogue and leaders being willing to put themselves out front and people coming together around this in a way that you sometimes think is impossible, but then you have one-on-one conversations with someone and you realize how much common ground there is. I have real hope in that. As far as policy, which you were also asking, like, have we passed any good policies and do I see any good policies coming forward? There have certainly been some successes. There were sessions where we were able to keep harmful legislation from passing.
The Permitless Carry Law that did pass the last session was also filed and fought hard by some groups in 2017 and 2019. It wasn’t successful at that time. We took that as a big win for our movement. We have seen some safe storage funding. There’s a statewide campaign called Keep ‘Em Safe Texas. DPS hosts that campaign. We were able to work with allies at the legislature to get that funding, which is huge. That’s nonpolitical. That’s just education for our community to store your gun safely to protect your children, other children, and people who are struggling.
We find successes sometimes in strange ways, like Representative Goodwin, whom I know you know. We worked with her to include an amendment in the Permitless Carry Legislation, HB 1927, to direct the state to do some tracking of the impact of the legislation. That’s a win. You have to see what you can work in and say, “We did what we could with what we had. We’ll build on that.”
As we finished an election, what my brain is spinning on is how we’re talking about the common ground amongst most citizens, but our government isn’t taking action that reflects the will of most people. I know we don’t have an election right now, but it’s another reminder of how important it is that we exercise our voice and that we speak loudly at the polls in the ways that we can because this is not reflective of the people of this state.
I consider it a great injustice, especially when you talk about an issue like gun violence that is traumatizing our communities and our families to let it go unaddressed for political reasons.
I think about myself after the shooting at the Walmart in El Paso. I remember going to a Walmart a few weeks after that. I was like, “Someone could be in here with a gun right now.” I think that all the time now when I go to the grocery store. My son just started elementary school. I’ve been pro-public education. I’m sending him there. Lots of other moms are like, “What’s the safety like? How are you going to make sure my kid is protected?” It’s ubiquitous. You cannot turn off these fearful thoughts. It feels like a communal trauma. That’s the hardest thing. It feels like it’s escalating. The stopgap is, where is it?
What’s it going to take? Let me speak to that first and say I feel that way all the time. It is an injustice and it’s traumatized us all. On the positive side, I’m sure you all know that over the summer, the Senate approved the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which is a historic federal legislation to do some strengthening of our gun laws at the federal level. Did it do everything we would’ve liked it to do? No, but that’s how this works.
You should never write something off just because you don’t get everything that you wanted. That’s one thing I’ve learned. I was able to go to the White House celebration with advocates and survivors from all around the country to commemorate that historic passage. That’s saying something because it had been many years since any real substantial federal legislation on gun violence prevention had passed. I do think that’s because A) People have had enough and it was too much, but B) Advocates have not stopped, it became unignorable. We have to build on our successes like that and keep going.You should never write something off just because you didn't get everything that you wanted. Click To Tweet
We appreciate your advocacy and the fact that this is something that you’re working on and doing day after day. It’s that persistence that seems to be the key to getting some common sense reform, which we’re all saying is what a lot of folks want. Nichole, do you have any final thoughts before we move into our last lighter part of the show?
Maybe how people can be informed and advocate.
What can they do?
You can find our website, TXGunSense.org. People can sign up to find out about volunteer opportunities. We have a blog for writers and people with personal experience in the issue. We’re a small organization. I never want people to underestimate the power of donating $5 because it does matter for small non-profits who are trying to keep going and sustain the work. There’s a lot of power in staying informed. I know sometimes it feels like that’s not enough, but it is. People are hungering for information. “How do I have this conversation with my family on holidays? How do I come ready with some facts to bust some of these myths that feel so impossible?”
Go to our website. Go to other great resources that are national, like Gifford’s Law Center, for example. Know that educating yourself and educating others is powerful. Even if it’s just telling someone who owns a gun gently that you hope they’re storing it safely in a locked container, it could save a life. Those conversations matter just as much as the big advocacy actions too. During the legislative session, we love for people to join us. We’ll have a big community-wide advocacy day with our partners on February 28th, 2023. There’ll be ways that people can plug into volunteers show up, all of that.
What we like to do to send off our guests is our Attention Mentions where we mentioned something that has our attention. It doesn’t have to be related to the work that you do. It’s like a show we’ve seen, a book we’ve read, an experience, or anything like that. Does anyone have anything that comes to mind?
What have you got?
It feels a little obscure, but I stumbled across this show called The Calling on Peacock. I was riveted. So far, they only have one season. It’s unclear if they’re going to get a second. It was eight episodes. I do tend to be attracted to these law-in-order type procedural shows. It is a New York cop show with a twist. He’s this Orthodox Jewish detective who integrates his spirituality. It’s interesting. I was into it.
Thank you. Nicole, how about you?
I watched the movie, The Swimmers. It’s on Netflix. It’s based on a true story about these refugees from Syria, these two sisters. It was good. I know it sounds trite because you hear this said a lot, but it showed how strong the human spirit is.
What’ll happen with me in these Attention Mentions is Nichole will mention something great and then I’ll watch it and I’ll be like, “Nichole, this is incredible.” I’ll mention an experience I had. I went to Disney World with the family. I have young kids. It was great. I was worried we were going to have a tough tantrum-filled day, but they were delightful. We could ride pretty much all the rides as a family, which was fun.
We did get the little Genie+ pass to cut some of the lines. It was a great day. It wasn’t cheap, but it was worth it. If you’re thinking of Disney, do it. It’s so much fun. Thank you again, Nicole. I’m glad you could help us understand more about what’s going on regarding gun violence, specifically in Texas, and how we can help be more informed and be better advocates. We need to do something to help ease this up in our country.
I hope that everybody reading and you two both will keep voicing your advocacy to leaders and everybody that you know. We’ll do it together.
We will be there and hopefully, bring folks along with us. Thank you so much. We appreciate it.
Thank you, everybody, for joining me and my cohost, Claire Campos O’Neal on this show. Hopefully, we demystified some little portion of Texas politics. We hope that you’ll do more with us. Check out our website at www.GoBehindTheBallot.com where you’ll find links to all of our social media and you’ll find our community. Let’s join together and do more. We hope you’ll let us know what is working and you’ll join us next episode. Thanks, everybody. Have a good one.
About Nicole Golden
Nicole Golden is the Executive Director of Texas Gun Sense, the only statewide gun violence prevention organization founded in Texas. Before leading the organization, Nicole served as Texas Gun Sense’s Development Manager. She became involved in gun violence prevention after the Sandy Hook School shooting, as Co-Founder of the Austin Group of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. Through that experience, Nicole developed deep subject matter expertise, strong public speaking skills, and a lifelong passion for gun safety advocacy. In her free time, Nicole loves reading, walking, and singing karaoke. She lives with her husband and two sons in Austin, Texas.