01/22/2013 09:58 am ET Updated Mar 24, 2013

One Woman's Petition For a Safer America Goes Viral

Horrified, disgusted, and fed up when the news broke about the Newtown, Connecticut shootings, New Yorker Staci Sarkin immediately took to her Facebook page, and posted a petition for safer gun laws for her friends to sign. She expected a couple hundred signatures, but then her friends shared it with friends who shared it with friends, and within 48 hours, 200,000 signatures had been collected. Sarkin is now closing in on 500,000 signatures (nearly the population of Wyoming), and is preparing to take the petition to Washington.

Sarkin says,

I hope to deliver our petition to Congress by February 4th when we hit half a million signatures. It was my goal to personally deliver it to Reed, McConnell, Bohner, Canter and Pelosi and I am realizing now that is probably unlikely, but I am trying to get in with at least one senator or congressperson whose track record on this issue has been consistent, or if it wasn't consistent, then someone who wants to change that and become consistent.

In the past 30 years there have been 62 mass shootings in the U.S., with 25 of them have occurring since 2006, and nearly 80 percent of the weapons in all of these shootings were acquired legally.

Sarkin adds,

So if we had done our job right, nearly 80 percent of those who were killed in mass shootings might have been prevented. And at least 38 of these 61 shooters displayed signs of mental illness prior to the killings. These shootings are happening in places that are presumed safe - the movies, elementary schools, office buildings, shopping malls - we should be able to go to any of these places without the fear of being shot.

When asked if she considers herself an activist, Sarkin replies,

I have never done anything like this. I am certainly someone who tries to be informed, and probably like most people, I get frustrated. I mean laws are made everyday, and we don't know all the details. For example, the Affordable Care Act has over two thousand pages - what ordinary American is going to have any idea what actually slipped into that thing? It's difficult to navigate Washington - you can't even get people in the government to return your calls, but I'm not going to let 500,000 people down.

Sarkin receives hundreds of emails a day in regard to the petition, and she reads them all, and tries to respond to them as much as possible.

I receive wonderful Emails of support, but I also receive lots of angry Emails saying we have enough gun control laws up the wazoo, but then I think that obviously those laws must not be good enough if guns have gotten into the hands of the wrong people, and innocent people are dying. Maybe the petition should have been called "Safer Gun Laws" instead of "Gun Control" because the minute you use the word 'control' people think you want to ban guns, and I don't want to necessarily ban guns, and the issue doesn't stop with guns, but we have a problem here. Gun ownership is supposed to be well-regulated, but with all of these mass shootings, all of these shattered communities, we're failing to do our job. I believe in the second amendment and the right to own firearms, but this right doesn't trump anyone's right to actually live.

Sarkin is still seeking signatures for this petition (link below) and is determined to see this through, but she doesn't intend to make a career out of creating petitions, and lobbying.

I'm just a private citizen who was fed up with turning on the television and hearing about innocent people murdered so I took action. I want to do my part to make 2013 and future years safer for our country.

  • The petition.
  • Sarkin's Facebook campaign.
  • To keep informed or to look up your Congressional representatives.
  • Additionally, you can call the Congressional switchboard directly at 202.224.3121.