Southeastern CT chapter of Moms Demand Action explains role & motivation in push for gun legislation
Moms Demand Action (Moms) is a non-partisan advocacy group created following the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012. It houses over 4,000,000 members, including the local Southeastern Connecticut chapter, which was created after the Parkland shooting in 2018.
“Our goal is to act as a counter to the National Rifle Association’s lobbyists, not gun owners,” said the Southeastern CT chapter’s legislative lead, Christine Stahl.
To achieve this, the group is divided into two branches: legislative and educational.
The legislative branch tracks proposed bills and then contacts state representatives to urge them to either support or oppose said bills. Within the past year, they supported a bill that bans bump stocks (an accessory to semi-automatic weapons that increases their rate of fire). Three recent bills, with topics ranging from safe storage to ghost guns (which are guns without serial numbers making them unidentifiable), were passed in CT that Moms favored also.
“[Moms] held our first meeting in 2018 in the Niantic Starbucks, where they used to allow open carry [for guns]. We held a boycott against them for that policy, and open carry is no longer an option here,” said Christine Stahl. “To be a part of that change is empowering.”
The educational branch oversees curriculums that teach basic gun safety. Karen Fischer leads the BeSMART program for Southeastern CT. Its purpose is to “help people learn basic gun safety and storage, while also covering the suicide risk associated with gun violence,” said Ms. Fischer.
Additionally, Moms created a rating system for political candidates so voters can see how close their voting record correlates with the group’s ideals.
Behind the time and effort that this group puts forward, their motivator has always been the safety of kids.
“The possibility that your kids would be involved in something as terrifying as [school shootings or gun violence] shouldn’t cross your mind,” said local group leader Rachel Everley. “It’s impossible to just follow [the gun violence you see on the news], you have to do something, you have to turn your anger into action.”
And, if the legislation and education somehow aren’t enough, the priority is to normalize the conversation, said sophomore Mikayla Stahl, who participated in events coordinated by the Southeastern CT chapter.
“It’s important to discuss how we can improve the situation and be comfortable with disagreement in opinion, because only through conversation can we really make change. You have to become your own advocate,” said Mikayla Stahl.
If students are interested in getting involved, they can text “STUDENTS” to the number 644-33, where they’ll receive information about events they can partake in. One of those will be the March to Prevent Suicide taking place this September in Niantic.