The image of the children of Sandy Hook Elementary children walking hands on shoulders, one after the other, on that horrific day in December is forever seared into America's collective memory. We were shook to our cores not only by the toll of the precious lives lost, but the realization that gun violence has become an out-of-control epidemic in our country that threatens the safety all of our families.
The three of us were strangers before December 2012. One of us is a pediatrician in San Francisco; one a Missouri lawmaker living in St. Louis; and one a stay-at-home mom in Indianapolis. The common denominator is that we are American moms. And like all moms, we are charged with the safety of our children.
Our concern for the safety of our children brought us together after the Newtown mass shooting. Whether you're a mom living in rural Texas, urban Los Angeles or suburban Pennsylvania, Sandy Hook Elementary was a wake-up call. Mothers have heard the alarm and we know that now is the time to act.
And make no mistake: We are acting. We've spearheaded a new organization: Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. In just three months, we've garnered tens of thousands of members and other supporters across the country and created more than 80 local chapters.
Thanks to social media and the Internet, we are connecting with mothers all over the country, and mobilizing them to act. On Wednesday, March 13, the day before the three-month anniversary of the tragedy in Newtown, the three of us will travel to Washington, DC, and join mothers from more than 30 states for Moms Take the Hill Day.
The mothers descending on DC on Wednesday are not your typical lobbyists. Some are gun violence victims, some have lost family members to gun violence and some are simply terrified that they will lose a child or loved one to the bullets of a gun. We are from diverse backgrounds and professions, and from different parts of the country, but all committed to joining forces to protect our children from gun violence. We are busy with children, families and work, but urgency of this issue has prompted us to travel at our own expense to the Capitol to speak out on the need for new and stronger gun laws.
The day will start with a gun policy briefing hosted by the White House. Then all 200 moms will meet with their Congressional representatives and demand immediate action on commonsense gun laws. We will end the day with a press event to include remarks from Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Sen. Barbara Boxer, Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, Rep. Elizabeth Esty, and others. All of us mothers, all committed to ending gun violence in America.
For our trio traveling to DC this week, the pediatrician among us knows that gun violence is a public health crisis, costing our country not just lives but millions of dollars in health care services. The legislator knows how a minority group has used its influence to put all our children at risk. And all of us, as mothers, know we cannot rest until we've done everything we can to prevent another Newtown.
Mothers will not wait for one more horrific mass shooting of our children. We will not be influenced or even intimidated by powerful gun industry lobbyists. Instead, we will sound the alarm for legislators to wake up and finally pass needed laws that we know will make a difference. If this call for change can save even just one child it will be worth our efforts, because we know that the one child saved could be our own.
State Rep. Stacey Newman
Deputy Minority Whip, Missouri State Legislature
St. Louis, Missouri
Michelle Sandberg, MD
San Jose, California
Founder, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America