It has been seven years since the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut where 20 children and 6 educators were killed, renewing calls for stricter gun control. Since December 14th, 2012, there have been 195 shootings on school grounds in America, averaging about one per week. The Sandy Hook shooting has been a turning point where every-day Americans have banned together to fight for a common cause.
There have been many people who have felt a call to action against gun violence in America. One of those people is Newtown resident Shannon Watts, the founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, who started a Facebook group the day after the tragedy, that posed the question, “How can everyone play a part to reduce gun violence in America?”
The group has since grown into a grassroots organization that is part of Everytown for Gun Safety, another organization that was also founded with the goal to end gun violence in communities all over the country. Everytown and Moms Demand Action now have chapters in every state and Washington, D.C., and nearly six million supporters. The group has pushed back on the gun lobby and has helped bring forth victories in state legislatures nationwide.
Small Change is Still Change
Both groups are founded on the notion that small changes in our communities are the first steps towards sweeping change nationwide. Most recent victories include the Richmond City Council, which passed an ordinance to report lost and stolen firearms, the Tacoma City Council which passed a tax on ammunition and firearms in order to promote public safety programs, and the St. Louis Board of Aldermen, which approved an ordinance that requires gun sellers to report failed background checks to law enforcement. Many volunteers from Everytown and Moms Demand Action have formally joined the political arena by winning seats in local offices all around the country. They’ve also been successful at creating content to share on social media sites – finding ways to reach citizens and voters where they are at beyond traditional political advertising. Everytown has produced short videos and spots with powerful voiceover layered over images of marches, rallies and family gatherings.
Gun violence statistics in the US have shown a rise in gun-related injuries. According to the CDC there were 39,773 gun deaths in 2017 alone, the highest on record. Each day 100 Americans die from gun violence. Each month 52 women are shot and killed by an intimate partner.
Movement Has Been Slow
In the past 20 years there has been a standstill in federal funding to research the effects and causes of gun violence. In 1996 congress passed the Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Bill, known as The Dickey Amendment, in which “none of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may be used to advocate or promote gun control.”
Now the House has approved a bill that will allocate $25 million to the National Institutes of Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to be used for gun violence research. The bill will need to be approved by the Senate and signed by the president, but these new funds could help us understand what causes gun violence and how we can prevent it. The push for these changes in the legislature would not have been possible had it not been for the grassroots organizing of everyday citizens.
If you’re advocating for common sense gun control, we’re here to help any way we can. Contact us anytime — we’re in the fight with you and will be proud to share our voice talents with your mission.