In response to the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, CN, stay-at-home mom Shannon Watts founded Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. The bipartisan organization was created to get legislators at the state and federal level to establish common-sense gun reform to decrease the escalating gun violence in US communities.
Today, Moms Demand Action has 3.5 million members and chapters in all 50 states. The organization has become a powerful grassroots network of mothers and allies, partnering with other activist groups such as Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Everytown.org, effecting change at the local, state and national level.
Last October Ellen Moses got involved through a Moms chapter in Clearwater and is now the group lead of the St. Petersburg chapter of South Pinellas – part of the southwest region that includes Orange, Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco and Citrus counties – which held a meeting at the Gulfport Public Library on August 25.
“I have a teenage son. I became tired of seeing the news of shootings at schools, in neighborhoods and elsewhere,” said Moses. “Gun violence happens so often that as a society we almost get immune to the violence, and that’s wrong.”
Since Moses started the local chapter last May, the group has been active in the community, canvassing at the St. Pete Pride Street Fest on June 26 as part of the Disarm Hate campaign, two weeks after the shooting massacre at Pulse nightclub in Orlando that left 49 people dead and 53 people injured.
Gulfport resident Greg Stemm, also a member of the local chapter and clerk of the St. Petersburg Society of Friends, attended the meeting at the Gulfport Library.
“Quakers have a long history of nonviolence,” he explained. “Orlando touched too close to home. As an LGBT activist, I’m glad Moms got involved.”
Moms Demand Action supports the Second Amendment, says Moses, but advocates what they call common-sense solutions, such as universal background checks and closing the gun show loophole.
“Ninety percent of people in this country now support universal background checks,” says Moses. “Our organization is not anti-gun. We are anti-gun violence. We support the Second Amendment, but with rights come responsibilities.”
The group’s main focus during this election season has been on the Gun Sense Voter Campaign.
“Mobilization for the Gun Sense Voter Campaign is happening locally and nationally,” said Moses. “The goal of the national chapter is to reach four million gun sense voters before November 8. We are encouraging people, first, to register to vote or helping them register, and then to vote for candidates of either party who support universal background checks and other sensible gun laws.”
The South Pinellas chapter will have its next meeting on September 1 at the South Community Library, 2300 Roy Hanna Dr. S. at 6:30 p.m. For more information, call Ellen Moses at 727-776-5284, visit the website at momsdemandaction.org or find them on Facebook at Moms Demand Action-FL.