THE BLOG

American Moms One Year After Newtown: No More Silence About Gun Violence

12/09/2013 10:54 am ET | Updated Feb 08, 2014

Over the past year, I've introduced myself across the country again and again as an Indiana mom of five children who became an accidental activist on December 14, 2012. In just one year, what started out as a Facebook page put up the day after the tragic mass shooting in Newtown has become a national grassroots movement. Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America now has more than 125,000 members and a chapter in every state.

Why has our movement been so successful? Because as the events at Sandy Hook Elementary unfolded last year, I and the other mothers of America were given an ultimatum: Act now to reduce gun violence in America or sit by as these senseless tragedies continue to occur in our communities. We chose to act.

And despite what some pundits may say, 2013 was a watershed year for the gun reform movement because it was the year American mothers finally stood up and said, "ENOUGH." Mothers have often been catalysts of social change in our nation, encouraging and fighting for changes to our laws on suffrage, segregation, children's rights, and drunk driving. Reducing gun violence by changing our culture, our laws, and American business policies is the next major movement for American mothers.

Since December, our moms have worked tirelessly to make our legislators and leaders listen to us. We have held hundreds of rallies and marches across the country and at our nation's Capitol. We've held stroller jams, hosted lemonade stands, and told Starbucks to get some gun sense. And -- because of our pressure -- Starbucks, a worldwide business icon, recently reversed its policy and declared that guns are no longer welcome inside their stores.

Despite the Senate's astonishing inability to pass background checks in April, we also had some major wins at the federal level. We endorsed and voted in candidates with gun sense, like Sens. Ed Markey and Cory Booker, and Rep. John Tierney. We pushed for and got a director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives -- the bureau had been without a director for seven years. And, in August, Sen. Reid promised our moms over a glass of lemonade that there would be another vote on background checks before the mid-term elections.

At the state level, we helped pass sweeping gun reform legislation in Connecticut, Colorado, Delaware, Maryland, and New York. We had smaller victories in California and New Jersey. And we blocked bad gun legislation from passing in Missouri. Looking at 2014, we are hopeful that we can push background checks through state legislatures in Minnesota, Washington, Oregon, and other states. And we will fight for new state laws that hold adults accountable for safe storage of their firearms -- currently only 20 states have such laws in place. We want to change the national nomenclature -- there is no such thing as an accidental shooting involving a child who has procured an adult's gun. Such shootings are criminal negligence, plain and simple, and they are shockingly common occurrences in America.

The bottom line is that moms will keep the pressure on until we change America's gun laws and culture. As accidental activists, and as moms, we now realize we have the power to make our communities wake up; we can take ourselves to the offices of our legislators and our local businesses and demand action. We can rally in the streets of our cities and make our voices heard.

And we will make our voices heard again on Sat., Dec. 14 -- the one-year anniversary of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary. Moms across the country will gather in communities from coast to coast at more than 50 events to ring bells in a moment of "No More Silence." Our events across nearly 40 states will honor all victims of gun violence, and show that American mothers will never again be silent about gun violence.

We didn't get to where we are overnight -- it has taken the gun lobby decades to lead us to the edge of this cliff. But we don't have to go over -- we don't have to fulfill the their prophecy of an America where everyone is armed, where our children wear bullet-proof backpacks to schools protected by shields, and where the good guys shoot it out with the bad guys over our kids' heads.

I've heard many of our members say that the Sandy Hook massacre was like a 9/11 for mothers. The murder of 26 innocent first graders and teachers was a wake-up call for mothers -- we now realize how lax our country's gun laws and policies are, and our eyes are open to the human toll of our national gun violence epidemic. I truly believe it's up to the mothers of America to pull our country back from the precipice, and to demand a safer future for our children. The bell cannot be unrung.