CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- An internal alarm has sounded in mothers across the nation. This bell can't be silenced. We were awakened on Dec. 14 by the nightmare images of 6- and 7-year-olds crying and clinging to teachers as they were led from Sandy Hook Elementary School. It was the unthinkable unfolding before our eyes. These were children just like our own: innocent, filled with optimism and brightness, sent off each day to schools like Sandy Hook Elementary.
I, like many American mothers, looked on for decades as gun violence increased and gun laws loosened. I hoped I could make a difference by raising compassionate children. I hoped that the President, our Congress, and our state and local legislators would act to protect us.
But no more. No more dependence on the actions of others; it is our time as mothers to rise up as a collective force and demand action on gun control.
The morning after the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, One Million Moms for Gun Control was founded. In less than three weeks, tens of thousands of members have signed up, and nearly 75 chapters have been created in cities across our nation. Much like Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) was started to address the deadly dangers of driving while intoxicated through public education programs and lobbying for stricter state and federal regulations, One Million Moms for Gun Control was born to fight for common sense gun control regulations.
Let me be clear: we do not stand for a ban on guns. We stand for our right to protect our children. Our middle-ground solutions to the escalating problem of gun violence in the United States are straightforward:
1. Reinstate the ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.
2. Close loopholes that encourage private gun sales without background checks at gun shows and on the Internet.
3. Set boundaries on the amount of ammunition a person can purchase.
The Second Amendment does not make this an "either/or" conversation. Americans can own guns andbe responsible; our children can go to school and feel safe; and we can enact gun control laws and honor our forefathers.
The shooting in Newtown wasn't the only mass shooting in America in 2012. It was the 16th. Since Columbine in 1999, there have been 31 school shootings in the United States. We have reached a tipping point. We must admit that gun violence isn't a series of one-off tragedies, but an epidemic caused by unregulated access to guns and ammunition in an already violent culture. Not a single gun law was created or strengthened after Norcross, Oikos University, Seattle, Wisconsin, Virginia Tech, Aurora, Tucson... sadly, too many to name.
But this time will be different. This time mothers are saying, "Enough." Moms are demanding action.
We will not rest until there is change. The alarm has sounded, and mothers are going to deliver the National Rifle Association and intractable legislators a wake-up call. There are 4 million current members of the NRA, but there are more than 80 million moms in America. The rapid growth of social media, the organizing power of the Internet, and our fierce, boundless love for our children will ensure our success.
To protect the lives of my own children, I am obligated to create the safest future for them and for the grandchildren I hope to have. It is said that a mother's love for her child is unstoppable. Be sure that One Million Moms for Gun Control is as well.
Capece, of Charleston, is founder of the West Virginia chapter of One Million Moms for Gun Control.