Founded on December 15, 2012, in response to the tragic Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut, Moms Demand Action has become a national grassroots movement dedicated to ending the epidemic of gun violence that affects every community. The group counts among its victories the discontinuation of open carry policies at major businesses such as Starbucks, Chipotle, and Target.This Saturday is their third-annual march across the Brooklyn Bridge, meant to raise the visibility of their organization and the importance of their mission. We spoke to Kristen Pettit, Bay Ridge resident and lead member of the New York Chapter, about this Saturday’s rally, and why Moms Demand Action not only needs the support of local parents to march with them on Saturday morning, but also to join them in the fight to protect innocent children and civilians against needless gun violence.
People have asked me, why is Moms Demand Action marching over the Brooklyn Bridge this Saturday? The answer is simple.
This march is a rallying cry, a declaration of purpose, and a promise that we are, and will continue to be, a force at the ballot box, in statehouses across the country, in corporate boardrooms, and in our local communities in direct opposition to the gun lobby and the NRA. This is our third annual march across the bridge and we press forward. We continue to fight to save lives. This is a marathon, not a sprint, and MOMS is just reaching its stride.
Our visibility, established by actions like this march, has led to significant victories for MOMS, both legislatively and in the private sector. Our efforts have persuaded major national chains like Starbucks, Target, Sonic, Chilis, Jack in the Box and Chipotle—and websites like Instagram and Facebook—to take a stand for customer and employee safety and adopt gun-sense policies.
In capitols and statehouses around the country, already this year, moms have been integral in stopping bills that would force guns on college campuses in Arkansas, South Dakota, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming. We have also been instrumental in blocking bills that would let people carry hidden, loaded guns in public, without a permit, in Montana, South Dakota, Utah, and West Virginia.
This past November voters in Washington State passed a ballot initiative to require background checks on all gun sales. There is legislation that just passed in Oregon that would do the same, and moms are working tirelessly in support of that legislation, too.
Closer to home, even with some of the strongest gun laws in the country, nearly 90 percent of crimes committed with a gun in New York City are committed with weapons brought to New York through the “Iron Pipeline.” This is the name given to the practice of buying guns in states with lax legislation and running them directly into our neighborhoods. Just this month, we saw how devastating these gaps in our laws can be—our deepest sympathies are with the family of Officer Brian Moore and his NYPD colleagues. Once again, a police officer has been killed with an illegal gun from Georgia—a state that last year did the NRA’s bidding and weakened its already lax gun laws. These are the same laws that the gun lobby is now trying to force on other states nationwide.
Moms will continue to fight against bad laws that put our communities at risk and we promise to support good legislation that prioritizes public safety and works to keep guns out of dangerous hands.
Moms are also working to promote responsible gun ownership. Right here in New York City, we have seen children pay the toll when gun safety is disregarded, such as the child recently shot by another child in Dyker Heights. This is not an isolated incident. A Harvard study found that more than two-thirds of kids know where their parents keep their guns—even when the parents think they don’t. About 100 children age 14 and under die each year in unintentional shootings. Every year more than 400 children 17 and under die by suicide with a gun. Too often these tragedies are reported as inevitable “accidents”—but when someone dies or is injured because a gun is left unsecured in a home, it’s not a blameless accident.
In response, MOMS is mobilizing a new campaign called Be SMART, which aims to end irresponsible gun storage and handling and thus prevent thoroughly preventable, unspeakably awful tragedies.
Isn’t keeping our families safe and our children out of harm’s way something that we all want? That is what Moms Demand Action is fighting for each day. And every day people like you, reading this, join the effort by signing up at momsdemandaction.org and adding your voice to this powerful movement. By plugging in with us, whether in person, via phone, or through social media, you will be part of making positive change happen.
In the 80s, Mothers Against Drunk Driving faced a similar struggle—a system slow to change, stacked against saving lives. Like Mothers Against Drunk Driving saved lives by changing drunk driving laws, Moms Demand Action will change gun laws and protect our children and communities from gun violence.
Since its inception after the Sandy Hook Elementary mass shooting, Moms Demand Action has established a chapter in all 50 states and is part of Everytown for Gun Safety along with Mayors Against Illegal Guns.
At the end of the day, moms and gun-safety advocates from coast to coast are showing the strength of grassroots power: we are not just here for the weekend to march across that bridge—we are here for the long haul because our children’s lives depend on it. We hope you’ll join us.
The rally begins Saturday morning at 9:30am with marchers assembling at Cadman Plaza Park. For more information about Moms Demand Action, visit its website, or like the Facebook page of the local chapter to find out how you can get involved.