Mom and MassShooting Survivor Ashbey Beasley on Why She Crashed a Live Nashville Press Conference
Common Sense

Mom and Mass-Shooting Survivor Ashbey Beasley on Why She Crashed a Live Nashville Press Conference 

“I think I just got to a point where I was done,” Beasley tells Glamour.

“Aren’t you guys tired of covering this?” 

This was the question that gun control activist and Highland Park shooting survivor Ashbey Beasley posed to reporters in the aftermath of the Covenant School shooting in Nashville on March 27, interrupting a live press conference that aired on Fox News, of all places. 

I know I’m tired of covering it. 

In the clip, which has since gone viral, Beasley steps in front of reporters and demands, “Aren’t you guys tired of being here and having to cover all of these mass shootings? I’m from Highland Park…” The audio briefly cuts away from the mother and activist, and when it returns, Beasley is saying how she happens to be in Nashville for a family vacation with her son to visit her sister-in-law. “I have been lobbying in DC since we survived a mass shooting in July,” she continues, referring to the Highland Park, Illinois, mass shooting during which seven people were killed at a Fourth of July parade. “I have met with over 130 lawmakers. How is this still happening? How are our children still dying and why are we failing them?” 

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It was a tragic twist of irony that brought Beasley to this press conference in the first place. She’d been on her way to lunch with friend Shaundelle Brooks, a fellow mother and advocate whose son was killed in a Waffle House mass shooting in 2018, when Brooks called her in a panic, she tells Glamour. Brooks had gotten a call from her surviving son that his high school, just blocks from The Covenant School, was on lockdown. Beasley offered to come and meet her, but, unable to enter the high school, the two made their way to the scene of Monday’s shooting, which is where Beasley encountered the news conference. “I think I just got to a point where I was done,” Beasley tells me over the phone on Tuesday evening. “I'm just like, I'm done. I feel like we aren't having the right conversations; we're not having conversations at all. And I just was like, I'm going to start this conversation.” 

In 2023 alone, there have been 130 mass shootings, according to the Gun Violence Archive, which have killed 193 people. Three of these were school shootings. Referencing a recent study analyzing causes of death among minors, Beasley continued in her press-conference-coup, “Gun violence is the number one killer of children and teens. It has overtaken cars.” She added, “Assault weapons are contributing to the border crisis and fentanyl. We are arming cartels with our guns and our loose gun laws. And these shootings—these mass shootings will continue to happen until our lawmakers step up and pass gun safety legislation. I’m pretty sure this was an unsecured weapon that this teenager got ahold of. We can’t even pass gun safety, like safe storage laws, in this country! To protect kids from getting ahold of weapons that they shoot each other with.”

Updated reporting has identified the Nashville shooter as 28-year-old Audrey Hale, not a teenager as was first reported, but the identity of the shooter is only a distraction from Beasley’s larger point. In the wake of every mass shooting event, conservative pundits and politicians cast about for an NRA-friendly talking point until they land on one that emphasizes the perpetrator’s uniquely troubled history. But activists and survivors like Beasley are less interested in psychoanalyzing mass murderers than they are in restricting their access to weapons of mass murder in the first place. Congress is ill-equipped to proactively identify and treat every at-risk young person who might turn to violence. Congress can pass popular, commonsense gun safety regulations. 

“They have mental health crises all over the world,” Beasley says. “Every single country is experiencing this, have had this, and they don't have the kind of numbers that we have related to gun death because they don't have access to weapons. Because their gun laws are tight, because their gun laws are serious.” She also points out that, regardless of the identity of the Nashville shooter’s (who’s been described as trans in some reporting), mass shooting cannot be ascribed to an LGBTQ+ issue. “The fact of the matter is that 97% of mass shooting incidents are carried out by cis males,” she says. “We are talking about a 3% outlier in what we're looking at in this situation.” 

Since surviving the mass shooting in Highland Park less than a year ago, Beasley has become a tireless advocate for gun control legislation. She and her young son Beau, who was also at the parade, were uninjured by the shooting, but she says the trauma of the event has motivated her constant activism. “[Beau] saw grown men running in such a panic they tripped and fell and crashed on the ground in front of us,” she told the Chicago Tribune. “He saw mothers wailing uncontrollably as they ran with their children holding on to their arm. These are things you can’t unsee, and you want me to just act like it didn’t happen and shield him from the truth?”

Despite the hands-up approach espoused by lawmakers like Tennessee Republican congressman Tim Burchett, Beasley says it is the government’s responsibility to do something. “People always say don't make this political, but it is political because this is up to our lawmakers to fix,” she says. “It's not partisan. Like, 70% of NRA members support gun safety legislation, 90% of Americans support universal background checks, two thirds of American citizens support an assault weapon ban. And these are numbers that came from Fox News.”

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Surviving one mass shooting is traumatic enough, but Beasley is joining a growing cohort of people who have witnessed more than one such event in their lives. When a gunman opened fire on Michigan State University campus in February, some students, including 18-year-old freshman Emma Riddle, became school shooting survivors for a second time. A little more than a year previously, Riddle had been a student at Oxford High, when a school shooter killed four of her classmates, according to The New York Times. In 2018, a 27-year-old man who had survived the massacre in Las Vegas, was killed in another mass shooting only a year later, per the Associated Press

As Beasley says, only in America. Aren't we all tired of this by now?