#Guns and People Winners Announced

Congratulations to everyone who submitted to the 2018 Memoir Magazine #Guns and People Essay contest! 

We thank those who have submitted their personal stories and in so doing have helped so many of our readers understand the phenomenon of Gun Violence in America.  This has been so much more than a simple writing contest. With easy access to AR-15 upper receivers and the gun in itself due to various online sites, our nation’s gun issue is multi-faceted and complex. You have stepped up to the plate and I’d like to personally acknowledge what an honor it has been to be entrusted with your story.

We would also like to thank our editors, staff, and supporters who make Memoir Magazine possible: Mary McBeth (yay, me!), Dr. Matthew Battista, Jessica Parker, Anthony Horner, Prarthana Banikya, Michele Gutierrez, Joshua Dykes, Cydni Alexander, Samuel Autman, and Kristin Singleton Ferrari.

In creating this contest, we wanted to get to the heart of America’s gun issue. We wanted to hear directly from people who have had experiences with guns to better understand how guns (and attitudes about guns) affect individuals over time and every day. In this we were humbled, but not disappointed. We had a heck of a time choosing from so much exceptional writing and so many astonishing accounts of true life gun encounters. We have read unforgettable stories of gun use deemed legitimate by our society, such as hunting, soldiering, police work, survival, or self-protection, as well as stories of dispicable, sad, and illegal occurrences such as intimidation, abuse, random violence and horrific accidents that have changed lives forever. The kinds of things that happen so often to so many individuals they seem surreal, becoming statistical numbers or political issues, far away from the realm of real people, true life–until they happen to you or someone you love, or as in the case of these essays–you get the chance to walk in another’s shoes.

Stories power movements. We hope these stories will inspire readers to act on behalf of all those who have fallen to the gun. That they will contribute to the evolution of a new sober more loving nation and strike the crucial balance between protecting the rights of citizens to own firearms where appropriate, while also protecting the rights of children, depressed individuals, and all citizens to be free from random violence. Today, you have the right to own a gun for protection and hunting, but I too am a citizen and I too have rights. Foremost the right to the reasonable expectation to attend school, live in my own home, raise my children in that home, or simply take a walk to the grocery store, without fear, the threat of harm, or PTSD.  Thanks for reading. Here are our winners below.

Sincerely Yours in Truth,

Founder and Editor-in-Chief

Memoir Magazine

The 2018 Memoir Magazine #MeToo Essay Award Winners

The finalists essays can be read by clicking on the links or images below.  In addition, 12 Runner Up essays will be published the following week in the upcoming #Guns and People special edition.

1st Prize: And Nobody Died That Day by Norah Vawter

Norah Vawter earned her M.F.A. in creative writing from George Mason University and her B.A. in English from the College of William and Mary. She’s a freelance writer and a children’s creative writing teacher. Her writing has been published in The Washington Post, Agave Magazine, Stymie, and The Nassau Review, among others. She is finishing an autobiographical novel inspired by her own experiences—growing up as a gun violence survivor and being raised by a quadriplegic mother. An excerpt of this novel was shortlisted for the Ropewalk Press Editor’s Fiction Prize. She’s also writing a YA novel about teenage aliens, because sometimes you need to write about stuff that doesn’t make you cry. Norah is obsessed with the ocean, space travel, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Hamilton, Harry Potter, and many different coming of age stories. She lives in the D.C. area with her husband and son.

2nd Prize: Deadly Force: A Cop’s Perspective by Mark Johnson

Mark Johnson worked for more than two decades directing United Way charitable campaigns in Colorado, Wisconsin, and Alabama. In 2002, he joined the Mobile, Alabama police department. As a sworn officer–six years in uniformed patrol, six as a detective–Johnson was decorated for Excellent Police Duty (three times), Chief’s Unit award, Meritorious Service, and Wounded in Service. He retired in 2014. His memoir, “Apprehensions & Convictions, adventures of a 50-year-old rookie cop” was published in 2016 by Quill Driver Books, an imprint of Linden Publishing, Fresno.

3rd Prize: The Incident At Woodlawn Point by Linda Spear

Linda Spear is an author and former journalist for The New York Times, where she reported on evolving health and human interest. Currently, she ghostwrites books with doctors who want to inform the public about developing advances in their specific fields of medicine. She is the author of “I Know You by Heart” and “The Iceman Checks Out.” When she’s not writing, she facilitates a wide variety of writer’s workshops.

Runner Up Essays:

While these essays did not win is not an indication of their worth. These essays are powerfully relevant to the current Gun issue facing our nation. Which is why we are publishing them next week in our Special Edition.

Boys with Guns by Jacob Paul Patchen
Deer Stalking By Page Lambert
Arise Heroes by Seth Tucker
No Loss of Life by Jennifer Fliss
Every Possible Scenario by Elsa Valmidiano
My Long Term Gun Relationship by Dan Dutilly
Pistol Shooting Basics by Krista Hanley
If You Have A Gun . . . by Tracy Ann Johnson
Death and Grief by Pat Woodell
A Free State by Kiley Bense

Honorable Mentions:

Hi, I’m the Ambassador of Murder Weapons by Zavi Kang Engles
Untying the Knot by Laura H Kelly
Aunt Alice Fires First by Richard X. Bailey
Dreaming of Guns by Garnett Kilberg Cohen
I Try Not To Think About Guns by Ashley Espinoza


  1. I love the variety of the writings,the openness of them,
    It encourages us to speak, even through writing, what would be left out due to political correctness, or judgemental issues,
    After all is said and done, it’s good to have these stories and this knowledge.
    Helps others speak, others heal, others find closure.
    In finishing, big up to you and a good undertaking.
    Bless you all.
    Great weekend.

  2. Thanks Emmaline, it great to encounter someone who gets it. We are glad you like the essays and we appreciate your commenting about their value to humanity, beyond politics and judgement. That’s exactly what we wanted to achieve with our #Guns and People contest. Keep speaking your truth!

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