In front of thousands at Kansas City's March for Our Lives protest, the widow of a Brookside attorney who was fatally shot on his front porch delivered an impassioned plea Saturday against gun violence.
"We do not have to keep allowing this nightmare to go on," said activist Emily Riegel, whose husband, Tom Pickert, was killed in October. "We cannot continue to let human lives be sacrificed on the altar of worship of some misinterpretation of the Second Amendment, or at the altar of worship of the almighty dollar coming from lobbyists, or as collateral damage in someone’s quest for power."
Pickert was killed shortly after returning home from walking his and Riegel's two sons to school.
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Riegel recalled that "quiet fall day" when she and her husband shared in a "flurried effort" to try to determine the source of a gunshot ripping through their neighborhood.
"Then another loud noise, and I became a widow," she said.
Riegel, a physician at the University of Kansas Health System, founded Indivisible Kansas City 10 months before her husband was slain. She is the president of the grassroots organization, which advocates for women's rights, health care access and gun safety.
She described Pickert as finding success in each of life's arenas as he put himself through college, started a business and became a husband and father.
"But in an instant, his living of that mythical American dream ended in what has become our new reality of the American nightmare of gun violence," Riegel said.
She implored those in attendance to not think of gun violence as "someone else's problem."
"It’s easy to think something like that could never happen to you until it does," she said. "And if we keep thinking that way, then it is only a matter of time before gun violence finds itself in your school, in your church, or on your front lawn.
"We cannot continue to find ourselves rendered powerless when each and every one of our lives is at risk. We’ve done that for far too long, and each day as we wait, lives are lost."
Pickert's killer remains at large.