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We got it from our mamas: Moms Demand Action fights gun violence

Cait Winston, Reporter

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  We, the victims of scraped knees and playground bullies and all of life’s small tragedies know that our mothers are always there for us. Always.

  Now, we are faced with greater tragedies. Far too often, infuriatingly tragic school shootings occur in this country due to lack of American gun sense, and students in Hudson and across the country have taken action to counter this violenceas seen in the walkout on March 14. The frequency of these shootings can make it seem like nobody is listening to the plight of students afraid to go to schoolbut once again, our mothers have proven their constancy in the face of catastrophe.

 Shannon Watts, mother of seven, woke up the morning after the Sandy Hook shooting on Dec. 14, 2012, feeling angry. Determined to fight for a country in which her children have the right to go to school and live, she created a Facebook page calling for action. Within weeks, through incredible online connections and the power of social media, Watts had created a full-fledged nonprofit organization called Mothers Demand Action. The fundamental goal of MDA is to “demand action from legislators, state and federal; companies; and educational institutions to establish common-sense gun reforms.”

  The changes that MDA is fighting to make are relatively non-partisan. Their agenda consists of common sense reforms such as closing background check loopholes and disarming domestic abusers. They also seek to pursue red flag laws, or the opportunity to petition a judge for a gun restraint order against a person that they suspect is dangerous. These red flag laws have passed in five states since Sandy Hook.

  Mothers Demand Action wants to try trying. This country has tried several different methods of reform in so many other areas from which tragedies have stemmed: automobile safety, airport security, drunk driving. Why, asks MDA, hasn’t America tried to take serious measures to prevent gun control?  

  So, as with many of life’s great problems, mothers have taken action against gun control into their own hands.

  Mother Demand Action has connected communities of like-minded parents and non-parents and provides information about events in your area like gun sense presentations, chapter meetings and rallies.

   MDA runs a campaign called Be Smart for Kids, which encourages parents to keep their children protected from unsecured guns. Be Smart teaches parents how to properly hide and secure firearms in homes, how to model proper behavior around firearms, and promotes one activity many parents do not consider: asking other parents about guns in their homes. Watts says that parents could be sending their children over to sleep at houses with loaded guns and not realizing it. MDA wants to normalize the asking of questions like “Do you have a gun?” to prevent unintentional consequences of children being exposed to unsecured guns. Watts insists that gun safety should start with restricting parents’ guns; she compares parent’s under-regulated guns to telling a child not to touch a burner that is on high. She points out that two million children in the USA live in homes with unsecured guns, and that is why America is the only developed nation where children are shooting people.  

  Along with promoting safety in the home, MDA has also harnessed the power of social media in their fight against gun violence.Watts started the hashtag #NoGunUntil21, which caused two companies, L.L. Bean and Orbis, to stop selling rifles to people under the age of 21.

  MDA has also created campaigns called Educators Demand Action and Students Demand Action so that those groups of people are given a voice from their specific perspective on gun control.

 

    Mothers Demand Action is accomplishing the crucial task of linking an emotional identity to gun control action. Recent school shootings have made parents think, “There’s no reason why that wasn’t my kid,” and all of a sudden, lawmakers’ thoughts and prayers are not effective. MDA encourages parents to get educated about where their candidates and lawmakers stand on the issue of gun control, and to vote accordingly. This organization recognizes that the safety of their children is constantly on the forefront of every parent’s mind, and encourages that priority to continue as parents walk into the voting booth.

  

  Many mothers around Hudson are ready and willing to respond to MDA’s rallying call to action.

  Local mother Judy Holman states that, “As a mother who sends kids to middle school and high school, it is part of my role to protect my children. I would think that parents like me would take an active role to combat gun violence.”

  Holman is a member of the Keep Hudson Safe initiative, a partnership between the Hudson City Schools and Hudson Community First. The initiative’s goal is to find ways to circumvent tragic events in our own schools by through a better understanding of safety school-wide. After the Feb. 14 shooting at Parkland High School in Florida, Keep Hudson Safe Initiative held a meeting with Principal Brian Wilch, Director of Pupil Services Kelly Kempf, Officer Jim Curtain and other leaders in the community to talk about what parents can do to ensure safety at HHS. They discussed the school’s new glass safety vestibules to prevent easy entry to the school, as well as the implementation of more security cameras.

 

  It’s easy to think that America will remain infuriatingly, tragically stagnant on the issue of gun control. It’s easy to feel hopeless because of the sheer number shootings in this country. It’s easy to think that small interest groups with a lot of money will triumph over common sense, and while it’s true that these interest groups have powerful members, organizations like MDA encourage the sentiment that there is no lobbyist more powerful than a mother protecting her child. And that is something to be hopeful about.

Moms Demand Action hold up signs at a June 2014 march across the Brooklyn Bridge.

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We got it from our mamas: Moms Demand Action fights gun violence