ENOUGH IS ENOUGH: Moms Demand Action Against Gun Violence (Here's How You Can Too!)

On Saturday, August 3rd, Americans went to bed knowing that one of the worst mass shootings in our nation’s history took place in El Paso Texas. In the morning, we all awoke to the gutting news that another mass shooting took place overnight in Dayton Ohio. Twenty-two innocent lives were taken away in Texas, nine in Ohio. The bloodshed felt all-encompassing, like a blow to the chest reverberating throughout our entire nation.

I’m certain my experience that morning mirrors that of so many parents across the country. Anger, fear and immense sadness rushed through my veins as I watched the morning news. Tears rolled down my face, landing on the top of my six-month-old daughter’s head as I held her close to my body, safe in my embrace. I felt dizzy and physically ill. The words “enough is enough” blared through my brain until they flew out of my mouth in a rage.

While scrolling through Facebook since these two attacks, I’ve been met with so many posts from other parents emotionally drained from the violence. Questions about what we can do to protect our families riddled my feed; parents feeling helpless and scared. If something as innocuous as shopping at Walmart isn’t safe, then truly what is?

The answer is brutal. Americans live in a state of domestic terrorism that can strike at any moment. Our notion of safety has been destroyed by the hands of all of the madmen wielding a gun; and the even bigger picture, by the gun lobby who holds our politicians at bay. On average, one hundred Americans are killed by a gun daily. It is easy to feel powerless as a parent right now, but there are measures we can be doing to change our landscape. 

In 2007, when I lost a high school friend in the mass shooting at Virginia Tech, these massacres felt rare. To know a name on a victim’s list wasn’t a commonality I shared with many people outside of my hometown community. On April 16th, 2019, twelve years to the day of the Virginia Tech massacre, I decided I needed to do something for my daughter. I had been on the email list for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America for a few months and decided I needed to actively volunteer. 

Through Facebook, I found the leaders of my local chapter and sent them a heartfelt email. I explained I was a brand new mother, and that I lost a friend in a mass shooting as well as my best friend, who died by suicide with a gun. Immediately, these two community leaders became my friends and took me under their wing. They explained that Moms Demand Action is a grassroots organization formed on Facebook in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012; that Moms is a nonpartisan group working to pass stronger gun sense legislation as well as close loopholes in the system. Moms members realize that we need to fight for the change we so desperately need in our country to keep our families safe. 

I jumped in right away. I marched in the Wear Orange survivors event across the Brooklyn bridge in early June. In July I attended a meet and greet with my House Rep, calling on him to vote “yes” for the extreme risk protection act that was to be voted on. I tabled at a local National Night Out Against Crime event in early August. And, in the days following the El Paso and Dayton shootings, I helped organize a candlelight vigil at a local church to honor the victims and help bring our community to together. 

You don’t have to be an activist type to volunteer and make a difference, you can write to your elected officials from the safety of your home and ask them to support specific bills. You can participate in texting campaigns and calls to action. You can even just join our mailing list to see what is happening in Washington DC and to vote accordingly. 

Despite being called “Moms” Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, we welcome mothers and others. Even if you are a gun owner, you are welcome. We have the Be Smart initiative which helps promote safe firearm storage in homes; reminding gun owners to always store their guns and ammunition separately in locked boxes. We are constantly taking on the gun lobby in Washington to support common-sense gun legislation. 

At the time of writing, Congress is on recess, but in the meantime, you can be leaving messages for your representatives to support the Extreme Risk Protection Act (or “red flag laws” as they’re often called.) These measures will allow family members to alert law enforcement if an individual is showing threats of causing harm to themselves or others. With due process, the court will decide if firearms should be removed from the household. These efforts are a stepping stone that will likely help prevent countless suicides, domestic abuse, and mass shootings. 

Unfortunately, it’s becoming so normative to hear about gun violence in our country, but I truly believe we are on the precipice of a big change in the wake of all of the tragedies we’ve recently experienced this summer. I implore any concerned parent to become active in their local Moms chapter. We have to bring upon the change we want to see for our children. Enough is enough. 

Things you can do right now: 

- You can join our email list at www.momsdemandaction.org

- Search on Facebook to connect with a local group

- Text the word “volunteer” to 64433 to receive text notifications 

- Pick up the book “Fight Like a Mother” by Moms founder Shannon Watts, to feel inspired. 

- Call your representatives and ask them to support the Extreme Risk Protection Act 

- Make sure you are voting for candidates that support gun sense legislation. 

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