Monday, October 7, 2013
It's been a few months since we've had an update on the gun control debate, so I asked my friend Cathi to let us know what's up:
When I first joined Moms Demand Action (http://momsdemandaction.org) I would often get asked why I felt compelled to get involved in this common sense gun reform effort. The questions were rarely focused on why I would take up this particular cause but rather how I fit it in. I have three kids, a husband who is busy, and an active life. Like most moms, my days are flooded with back-to-back events and there is never enough time in the day or energy to spare.
But for me, I had no choice. I was compelled to act after seeing the horrific events in Newtown. As a mother of elementary school-aged children, I had to take action. It was no longer acceptable for me to serve as a spectator on the sidelines. And now that I’m involved I can’t unknow the daily horror of gun violence that takes place continuously in our country.
The truth is that we simply have too much gun violence in our country. News of mass shootings have become all too ordinary and acceptable. Gun violence kills an American child every 3 hours and 15 minutes. It’s almost too kind to call it gun violence, it is gun destruction – people, lives, families, dreams, are destroyed by guns – even when victims of gun violence live. The idea that a criminal could legally obtain a firearm without a background check defies common sense. Military style assault weapons with high capacity magazine clips, openly available for purchase, are designed for one purpose -- killing as many people as possible. Enough is enough.
I began to uncover ways in which I could make an impact and I reached out to a number of groups to see how I could help. What I discovered was four things: first, I was not alone; it was inspiring to see the number of moms who got involved in this movement for the same reasons I did. Second, just a small amount of time and effort can make a tremendous difference. Third, getting involved with this movement was personally inspiring and rewarding. Fourth, moms, as a demographic group, are a force to be reckoned with and can make a huge difference.
While there are a number of strong gun reform groups, I began as a volunteer for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America in March of 2013. It has been remarkable to have a front row seat in watching this organization expand from a Facebook page to the thriving organization it has become over the past 7 months. We now have chapters in every state of the country and over 100,000 members nationwide. In fact, in my own home state of Virginia, which is the home of the largest and most affluent gun lobby organization in the country, we have a full and flourishing chapter with leaders that are educating, motivating, and mobilizing moms and families to take action that will result in stronger life-saving laws and policies.
In spite of hectic schedules, busy moms across our country have been compelled to act and we are making an impact. On September 18, 2013, Starbucks CEO Howard Schulz announced that guns were no longer welcome in Starbucks stores nationwide, reversing the company’s previous policy of allowing open and concealed carry if state and local law allowed it. The decision followed a two-month campaign led by Moms Demand Action pressuring the company to get gun sense. In announcing the new policy, Schultz told CNN, “Guns should not be part of the Starbucks experience.” Personally, I think this is a sign that there is a great shift ahead in our culture. People do not want to sit in a coffee shop across from a man or woman with a gun strapped to their shoulder or belt and wonder if they’re the good guy or the bad guy. So, while it’s been detrimental to my wallet that now I’ve returned to Starbucks, I’m thrilled to be able to say ‘thank you’ to a company that has gunsense.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and all month long Moms Demand Action is bringing attention to the lethal problem of Domestic Gun Violence. Every week, nine American women are shot dead by their husband or intimate partner. Yet Congress refuses to act on the most common-sense measures to keep guns out of the hands of abusers.
Throughout October, we’ll demand action from Congress to #Savethe9 women who die every week because their violent partner has access to a gun. We’re holding events in several of the “Top 10” worst states for female homicide, visiting our legislators during a week of action over Congressional recess, and creating awareness with an easy and impactful craft. Please visit this website to see how you can get involved, http://momsdemandaction.org/domestic-gun-violence/
On September 17th, the Senate Judiciary Committee was scheduled to have a hearing on “stand your ground laws” that have been enacted in various states. That hearing was postponed. It did not happen because on Monday, September 16th Aaron Alexis killed 12 people in a mass shooting in Washington DC’s Navy Yard, before being shot to death by police. How’s that for irony? Members of Moms Demand Action gathered with others on Tuesday evening, the day after the shooting, at a vigil for the victims of the Navy Yard. Neil Heslin was there (he was in town for the Mayors Against Illegal Guns – No More Names bus tour), his son, Jesse Lewis, was one of the 1st graders killed at Sandy Hook. Neil spoke at the vigil and as he spoke I thought, this man shouldn’t have to do this, he shouldn’t have to mourn 12 more lost lives, and he shouldn’t have to beg Congress to do something. And yet he does, and we do, and we must.
I heard a woman speak two days after the tragic events at the Navy Yard. Her daughter had been murdered, shot by a gun, and the killer was never found. She said that her story never made the headlines, she never had closure, and she lived with that every single day. I’ve thought of her every day since, and of the families of the 12 victims at the Navy Yard, and of the beautiful children of Sandy Hook and their brave educators, and so many others whose stories are now part of me.
Once you know, how can you not get involved?
Join Us - http://momsdemandaction.org/join-us/
Take Action Today - http://momsdemandaction.org/take-action/
Check Out our Events - http://momsdemandaction.org/in-the-news/1mm4gc-events/
Donate - https://momsdemandaction.nationbuilder.com/donate