By Richard Campbell
On a rainy Monday night at the Boston Public Library in Copley Square a small coterie of dedicated people gathered for an informational meeting on the Boston chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense group. The organization first formed by Shannon Watts on September 15, 2012, the day after the Sandy Hook School shootings started as a Facebook group and has grown to a massive national cause with five million supporters. Mom’s has joined forces with Everytown, a 501(c) (3) organization in a national effort to bring common sense gun safety laws to the US. At the entrance to the Commonwealth Hall volunteers were giving out bling and information as the audience filed in to hear Angela Christiana head of the Boston Moms Chapter give an inspirational and sometimes sorrow filled speech to members and new attendees alike.
Careful to explain that they are not against second amendment rights but feel the time has come for our nation to face the reality regarding the tragic loss of life Americans continually witness on our streets, in our schools and churches- and well just about anywhere- due to the lack of common sense regulations in our country. Blessed as we are with strict gun laws in Massachusetts, and the best gun safety record in the nation, Christiana noted we are still seeing victims fall amongst us, many times because of guns that are illegal here that flood into Massachusetts from neighboring states with lax gun laws. Witness the recent shooting in South Boston this year. Just how bad is the situation?
On average 96 people (seven of which are children) a day are killed in the US by gun violence, and for every person killed by guns, two more are injured. Women are 16 times more likely to be killed by guns than men- with 50 women on average daily killed by intimate partners. In the developed world the United States has a gun violence rate that is 25 times higher than any other nation. In states that require background checks for guns, the rate of gun deaths drops 47%. It was also duly noted that 62% of gun deaths in America are suicides.
The commonsense idea that the rest of the nation should follow Massachusetts as a leader in this area is one that isn’t popular with gun manufacturers. They were visited by candidate for governor of Massachusetts, Jay Gonzales who thanked the Mom’s group for their work, and made an emotional recounting of the recent 50 mile walk he made with Massachusetts students from Worcester to Springfield to gun manufacturer Smith and Weston to demand that guns that are not legal here should not be manufactured in our state to be exported elsewhere. It was remembered that 17 students at Parkland High school were killed with a Smith and Wesson gun.
Recently the Mom’s organization made great strides in getting the ERPO law passed at the Massachusetts State House which allows officials to take guns away from people who have exhibited signs of mental instability that might lead them to commit gun violence. The group is focused upon closing deadly gun show loopholes, promoting gun safety, supporting reasonable limits on storing guns, and creating enforceable laws to prevent gun violence. Issues like giving guns to school teachers (what an insane idea), students carrying guns around college campuses, and the national trends in gun violence were discussed. Volunteer Colleen McGrath gave testimony about her brother who killed himself in 1988 with a gun, and how his best friend from high school was the officer on the scene of the accident had said: “I wish we could have done more.” This was seared in her memory and made her an activist when she started to see children being killed senselessly all over the nation.
After her speech the group roll played their elevator speeches to warm up for their future campaigns, made out personal post cards to potential supporters, and coordinated activities for their future. This group is most so well organized, very down to earth and committed that I would say anyone betting against them is in for a rude awakening.