Two years ago, Shannon Watts of Zionsville watched news reports of the Sandy Hook shootings in horror. The organization she founded shortly after, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense, now has more than 240,000 members nationwide.
So many women tell me Sandy Hook was the 9/11 for mothers. But what could I do as a mom in the middle of Indiana? I thought, “At least I can start a Facebook page.” At the time, I think I only had 75 personal Facebook friends. But the page had hundreds of likes within hours, and tens of thousands within days. What started as an online discussion became a movement.
Within 24 hours, I started receiving threats of sexual violence and horrible insults. I have to be frank: I had no idea that underbelly of America existed. The rhetoric of the NRA has created an extremist group terrified their guns are going to be taken away. Which could not be further from the truth. We support the Second Amendment. Many of our members are gun owners. We’re terrified our children will be taken away. That’s the emotion that will win this debate.
As I began to research, I was shocked to learn the gun laws in our state. The gun lobby has been insidious everywhere, but particularly in Indiana. The fact that our governor was the keynote speaker at the last NRA convention says it all. The gun-show loophole is the cause of so many crime guns that end up in Chicago. And the Castle Doctrine allows you to shoot policemen! It was a prototype for the NRA that began right here in Indiana. We have to get rid of these things.
We have moms in Texas showing up at the Statehouse, testifying against bad bills. We have moms in Montana, moms in Idaho. Places where people might have been intimidated by the gun lobby in the past. You don’t get involved in this brand of activism unless you are one tough mother. This time, women are saying, “No. It’s now or never.”
Indianapolis is coming off one of its deadliest years ever. Under the Gun, from our February 2015 issue, offers a grim look at the violence killing our city.