WASHINGTON, D.C. (Jan. 5, 2016) - DeAndra Yates never intended to become an advocate for gun safety and gun violence victims.
But the last two years of her life have landed her in that role. And her embracing of that role resulted in a personal invitation to attend President Obama’s Tuesday announcement about his plan to tighten gun control measures across the nation.
“It was just very emotional, and it was heartwarming,” Yates said less than an hour after the President’s announcement. “And it was just great that the President is taking the steps that we need to make things happen-- to make our streets safer.”
Nearly two years ago, Yates nearly lost her son, Dre, when he was hit in the head by a bullet fired into a birthday party on the northwest side of Indianapolis. Dre was left with serious brain injuries and continues receiving treatment and therapy to regain as much of his faculties as possible.
“He is becoming vocal,” Yates said. “I think the last time I talked to you, he was doing nothing. So now, he’s not saying words but he’s yelling out. Letting us know he does have a voice.”
Since Dre’s shooting, Yates has been involved with the Every Town for Gun Safety Network. She says her work and personal story resulted in a personal invitation to the East Room of the White House Tuesday. She and other members of the network applauded the President’s plan for wider background checks, more mental illness treatment and better tracking of guns.
Yates believes these measures could have prevented her own son’s shooting.
“To this day, we don’t know who shot Dre,” Yates said. “But things that I’ve heard, it was someone who was underage. So he couldn’t have got a gun. It was an underage party for a 15-year-old. There was no one there old enough that should have had access to a gun.”
Yates understands that the President’s plan to tighten gun sales and other measures will be fiercely debated across the country. That debate was well underway by Tuesday afternoon. But she personally believes the measures are a step in the right direction in keeping guns out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have them. People like, she believes, the person who changed her son’s life, and her own life forever.
“It may not have saved Dre, but if it will save one life since Dre, then there was purpose in it,” Yates said. “There is purpose in me being here in Washington, there’s purpose in me continuing in being an advocate and being Dre’s voice.”