(Washington, DC) May 7, 2014 – With Mother’s Day around the corner, more than 100 members of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, gun violence survivors and advocates from across the country descended upon Washington, D.C. today for the second annual ‘Moms Take the Hill’ event to call on our nation’s leaders to address the national gun violence epidemic that kills 86 Americans every day. Moms and survivors from across the country – Arkansas, Arizona, California, Georgia, Florida, Indiana, Massachusetts, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Tennessee and Virginia – are meeting with over three dozen members of Congress to discuss common-sense gun reform and why we must close the loopholes in our federal law that make it easy for criminals, domestic abusers and stalkers to get their hands on guns.
“We are here today in our nation’s capitol in advance of Mother’s Day to say we need our leaders to take action to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, now a part of Everytown for Gun Safety. “The urgency to act has never been greater, and the resolve on our side has never been stronger. When a minority of senators blocked life-saving background check legislation last year, we pledged to take the fight to statehouses across the country. We promised to invest in the grassroots. That’s exactly what we’ve done. Moms Demand Action now has more than 150,000 moms across the country with a chapter in every single state and – together with Everytown for Gun Safety – more than 1.5 million supporters.”
Moms are also asking members of Congress to support Senator Amy Klobuchar’s Protecting Domestic Violence and Stalking Victims Act of 2013 (S.1290) to close the loophole in federal law that allows domestic abusers and stalkers to get guns. Though federal law generally prohibits gun possession by domestic abusers, this prohibition does not apply when the victim is a dating partner – as opposed to a spouse. This bill would save women’s lives by correcting that flaw and prohibiting convicted stalkers from buying or owning guns. Several states including Louisiana, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Wisconsin and Washington State have recently overcome decade-long NRA resistance to pass bills to keep guns from domestic abusers.
As a result of the country’s weak gun laws, American women are far more likely to be murdered with guns than in any other developed nation. Research shows that the presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation makes it five times more likely that a woman will be killed and on average, 46 women are shot to death each month by current or former intimate partners. Over the past 25 years, more intimate partner homicides in the U.S. have been committed with guns than with all other weapons, and a study of incidents in 10 major U.S. cities found that nearly 90 percent of attempted murders of women involved at least one incident of stalking in the year before the attempted murder. Comprehensive and enforceable background checks will save women’s lives – in fact, in states that do require a background check for every handgun sale, 38 percent fewer women are shot to death by intimate partners.
Gun violence survivors and advocates joined Watts at a press conference on the Hill today.
“We are in Washington this week to continue the fight to pass sensible reforms that will prevent gun violence and save lives,” said Lucia McBath, whose son Jordan Davis was shot and killed. Mother’s Day is never going to be the same for me and I promise to continue this fight, just like Sonja and all the other moms in this room. We want to see a safer America for our children and communities and we want elect leaders that will do everything they can to save lives.”
“I am speaking out to honor the life of my daughter who was murdered by a man who should not have been eligible to purchase a gun. I want to ensure that no other mother, sibling, or family member has to go through the same tragedy,” said Sonja Woods, whose daughter was killed by a former dating partner. “Background checks are a simple and crucial element to promote gun safety. Congress needs to support Senator Klobuchar’s legislation and other common-sense reform that will save lives by correcting current loopholes and prohibit criminals, the seriously mentally ill, domestic abusers and other dangerous individuals from purchasing and using guns.”
“Moms and Americans across the country are coming together on this issue and we will not be ignored,” said Kathleen Wright, Tennessee communication leader for Moms Demand Action. “In Tennessee and nationwide, we know that respecting rights is just as important as protecting our mothers, sisters and children. We need to pledge to vote for political leaders that support common-sense efforts to reduce gun violence and work to fix loopholes that leave guns in the wrong hands.”
In addition to the day on Capitol Hill, Moms will host more than 150 house parties across the country to bring Americans together to join the Gun Sense Voter campaign, which will, for the first time, mobilize one million voters to support candidates and laws that will prevent gun violence.
At these events, attendees will sign pledge cards that they will vote with gun sense – the simple idea that we can do much more to keep our families and communities safe from gun violence.
Just last month, Moms Demand Action and Mayors Against Illegal Guns announced thelaunch of Everytown for Gun Safety, a new organization that brings together Mayors, Moms and a grassroots movement of Americans who will work together to end gun violence and provide a counterweight to the Washington gun lobby. This movement is already showing important progress – just this week Louisiana and Minnesota joined Wisconsin, Washington State and New Hampshire in overcoming decade-long resistance from the NRA to pass bipartisan laws that will keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers. Moms were also a part of defeating two dangerous gun bills in Arizona that were vetoed by Governor Jan Brewer last month.