Sometimes, all it takes is a tragedy seen through the eyes of a mother to bring a community together to lead change. While watching the Newtown tragedy unfold, Shannon Watts, a mother of five from Indianapolis, decided to do what most of us don't have the mental stamina to even conceive in the midst of such horror: She founded One Million Moms for Gun Control, hoping to put the voices of mothers at the forefront of the gun control debate.
One Million Moms for Gun Control will hold demonstrations in New York City on January 21 and co-sponsor a march on Washington five days later. The group announced its support of the administration's current proposal to ban assault weapons, high-capacity ammunition clips and proposed universal background checks for all gun purchasers. Convening in masses next week, they hope to put pressure on House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to bring the proposed bills to the floor for a vote in Congress. The group makes it clear on their website that they will not back down from the fight for gun safety regulation referencing the plight of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the instrumental group that helped to change drunk driving laws in the 1980s.
This is not the only women-centered advocacy group petitioning Congress to support stricter gun regulations. MomsRising, an organization based in Seattle, is urging Congress to pass gun safety laws by asking them to consider "common-sense gun regulations." Before the Newtown tragedy, MomsRising gathered more than 100,000 signatures to demonstrate community support for new gun laws. Since Newtown, they've rallied outside Wal-Mart's in Arkansas and Connecticut demanding they stop selling assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.
Almost 13 years ago, The Million Mom March was formed by a mother in response to the Los Angeles Jewish Community Center shooting in an effort to promote stricter gun control laws. Laura Wallace, an activist with The Million Mom March who lost her son to gun violence, watched the nation rally for gun control safety to no avail. Today, she reminisces about the fight she and other activists had trying to convince Congress to support stricter gun laws. She continues to epitomize a mother's need for justice in the wake of tragedy. Now, years later, it's mothers who are rallying for action again. And it will take mothers with a spirit like Laura Wallace's and others who have been impacted by gun violence for groups like One Million Moms for Gun Control to be successful. So far, they are pretty confident, emphasizing their role as protectors of their children as the fuel for their fervor.
It's not tough to imagine what a woman -- or any parent, for that matter -- will do when it comes to ensuring the safety of their child. Many parents who lost children in the Newton tragedy have become outspoken about their support for stricter gun control and want a seat at the proverbial table. The accomplishments of Mothers Against Drunk Driving is serving as inspiration for women and mothers across the nation to organize and make their voices heard. Groups like One Million Moms for Gun Control and MomsRising appear to have the vision, the will and the stamina to lead a fight against loose gun control. In the spirit of advocacy, one can hope the collective voices of all women and mothers fighting for stricter gun laws will come together in solidarity for a lasting and more meaningful impact.