On this Mother's Day, it is hard not to feel inspired and hopeful by the robust and sophisticated grassroots movement building of moms across America who have organized to fight for safer gun law legislation. And although disappointed by the lack political leadership on the issue, Mother's Day offers a chance to recognize the undeniable force that is growing since the Newtown tragedy. If nothing else, we, moms, know how to get things done.
On Labor Day 1999, My friend advocate mentor, and Million Mom March founder Donna Dees launched an unprecedented political gathering of mothers in D.C. With nothing more than a website and a permit to march, 25 moms and a NYC police lieutenant joined Donna at a press conference to announce that they were giving Congress nine months to pass sensible laws.
Nine months was a time frame universally respected by mothers everywhere. Mothers would either celebrate their votes for reducing gun violence or protest their failure by marching en masse on the National Mall on Mother's Day.
Almost one million marchers protested on the National Mall that Mother's Day. Another 150-200 thousand marched in support rallies across the country. It was an impressive and overwhelming sight of so many Americans who all wanted the same thing -- to make our schools, day camps, places of worship and places of play to be free from the threat of gun violence.
The same thing moms want -- and we all want -- today.
Washington's inaction and insensitivity to the needs and demands of families has motivated more groups of mothers to organize throughout the country: Moms Demand Action and Moms Rising are two examples of coalitions that have effectively organized through social media, connecting with moms and caring citizens from every walk of life.
Today, in honor of Mother's Day, advocacy events are taking place in many communities, all linked through the virtual campaign that is growing deeper and wider roots with each passing day.
Our first Million Mom March didn't have Facebook, or twitter. Many moms didn't even have email then! But what we had was passion and the ability to organize quickly. A few days after the success of the march, I turned over the reins of this mom grassroots organization to the Bell Campaign -- a new nonprofit that was to be modeled after Mothers Against Drunk Driving. And, in an effort to create even greater efficiency in the movement, the Bell Campaign merged with the Brady Campaign in October of 2001.
Many of us moms continue to volunteer for the Brady Campaign and haven't celebrated Mother's Day in the traditional way since 2000. Over the last decade, we've continued to call our lawmakers and the White House to protest the easy access to dangerous guns in dangerous hands. However, the horrific tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary last December has made our mission that much more urgent.
Well, we moms have the will, passion and ability to protect our children. There could be no greater motivation for coalition building of mothers and movers.
In the 2000 campaign, thousands of moms worked tirelessly to educate voters of who in Congress failed to support sensible gun laws. And moms succeeded in getting rid of several gun lobby stalwarts in Congress that year.
But rather than just vote the rascals out in 2014, we'd rather that they just vote for sensible solutions. Then we, as American moms, could all celebrate next Mother's Day 2014 as a time in this country when common sense finally prevailed. But if we moms must mobilize en masse again, we will. And then mobilize again -- to the polls.
Let's be sure the courageous moms organizing these efforts know they have our support and that we appreciate their protective care of all our children.
Happy Mother's Day.
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