As a mom increasingly horrified by the ceaseless death toll from gun violence in the United States, I recently became the West Virginia chapter leader of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.
Just as Mothers Against Drunk Driving was created to stop drunk driving, Moms Demand Action was created to end the epidemic of gun violence in America. Moms "fix what's broken," and right now, the gun laws in this country are broken.
The tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Ct., in which 20 children and six educators were murdered, was a wake up call for many, and we can no longer be silent about our nation's raging epidemic of gun violence. A child or teen is shot and killed every three hours and 15 minutes every day in America. It is time our voices are heard on behalf of children and other victims of gun violence.
On Saturday, Moms Demand Action hosted memorial events nationwide in honor of the children and adults murdered at Sandy Hook. These "No More Silence" vigils send a message that it's time to make noise about gun reform. Moms honored those lost at Newtown and all victims of gun violence through bell ringing in lieu of a moment of silence.
In the week leading up to the anniversary, members of Moms Demand Action engaged in a week of action. We called on Congress to immediately enact common sense reforms such as comprehensive background checks for gun purchases, a measure previously introduced in the Senate by our own Sen. Joe Manchin.
Sunday marked the one-year anniversary of Moms Demand Action, founded one day after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook. In just 12 months, Moms Demand Action has grown to more than 125,000 members, with chapters in every state. The grassroot movement's members have been instrumental in securing significant legislative victories at the state and local levels, including passage of strong new gun laws in California, Connecticut, Colorado, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey and New York. Moms Demand Action has actively supported candidates with gun sense, including endorsing Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts and Virginia Governor-elect Terry McAuliffe.
Moms Demand Action convinced Starbucks to change its policy allowing guns inside its stores. In September, Starbucks CEO Howard Shultz announced, "Guns are no longer welcome at Starbucks." Moms Demand Action is continuing to push for gun sense at American businesses and institutions, including Staples and other retailers.
Maura Sherlach Schwartz, a national spokesperson for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and daughter of Mary Sherlach, a school psychologist shot and killed at Sandy Hook Elementary, had this to say:
"What happened at Sandy Hook Elementary was an unimaginable tragedy for my family, and the families of all of the victims. It was also a shattering wake up call for millions of mothers across America. I am proud to be part of this powerful grass roots movement working to combat the national epidemic of gun violence that claims the lives of nearly eight children or teens every day."
American moms will never forget the countless other victims lost to gun violence every day all over the country. In one year we have seen successes as a result of our voices and we will not stop until all of our children, families, and communities are safe from gun violence.victims lost at Sandy Hook, nor the
Moms Demand Action is not limited to "moms" but includes all interested participants and has a national "dads" chapter. Why not mark the one-year anniversary of Sandy Hook remembering the dead and honoring the living by joining Moms Demand Action (or another organization with similar goals) and begin working to stem the tide of gun violence?
Childers, of Winfield, leads the West Virginia chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.