This Mom Is Leading A Fight Against Abusive Men With Guns

Three years ago, on March 23, 2013, Hollie Ayers lost her son to gun violence. The shooter was her ex-husband; her son’s father.

Michael Ayers was a child who loved tractors and only wanted to protect his mother from monsters. Hollie, on the other hand, wanted to protect her son from his father’s depression and rage.

During a normal supervised visitation, Hollie dropped off two-year-old Michael at her former mother-in-law’s house. Moments after her ex-husband arrived, all hell broke loose. Here is her story in her own words:

My ex-husband arrived soon after we did, and Michael walked out of the house with me to meet his father. As I was walking down the ramp from the house, my ex-husband attacked me, hitting me in the head over and over again. The next thing I knew, I was sitting in an awkward position on the ramp and realized I had been shot in the legs.

Michael was on the other side of the car when I heard my former mother-in-law say, “I’m going to get Michael.” That’s when my ex-husband grabbed Michael and shot him in the back. He tried to take off with him but I managed to grab him back. He came after me and after struggling over Michael, my ex-husband took him from me and threw him in the hatch of the car. He shot at his mother but missed. After he got into the front seat of the car, I got Michael out of the car and ran inside the house. At some point during the frenzy, I was shot three times in the legs and face.

Michael was already dead when I brought him in the house. After the police arrived, I was brought to the hospital where I stayed for a couple of days.

My ex-husband fled the scene, initiating a massive search involving the state police. He went home, switched cars, and called his siblings to tell them what had happened. He blamed me. By the time they found him that afternoon, he had shot and killed himself.”

Hollie blames a failed system for her son’s death. She understands it was her ex who pulled the trigger and killed his own son, but ultimately it was the system who had the opportunity to protect and save Michael’s life.

When Michael was only six-months-old, Hollie took him and left her ex-husband. He attempted suicide within a day of her leaving. He also attempted to burn down their house. This wouldn’t be his only act of violence against himself.

Hollie feared her own life and was able to secure a protective order against her ex-husband. Her story on Moms Demand Action’s website, does not go into detail on the abuse, but it was enough for a judge to take his weapons away.

Though the weapons were no longer in the home, “they were still in reach.” And, eventually, a judge allowed her ex-husband visitation. In the visitation order, the weapons were not addressed.

Because of the lack of continued intervention, Hollie believes the system failed her.

In an effort to prevent her son’s death to be in vain and prevent other families from going through the same tragedy she experienced, Hollie has made an effort to help other families in similar situations. She has volunteered at local domestic violence organizations and headed different events in order to spread the message. She also has stepped up against domestic violence and guns.

Hollie has been surprised at the support she has received, especially because she comes from a rural town. She continues to advocate for support and measures to prevent future child deaths at the hand of someone with a gun.

Though gun advocates may argue against any limitations on access to guns, these types of situations should have even the National Rifle Association backing mothers like Hollie. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

To read more about Hollie’s story, click here

Featured image by Bart Everson under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License