Shannon Watts, front row, at right, and other Moms Demanding Action, meet with Sen. Feinstein on Valentine’s Day 2013.
Flush with new cash, PACs and activist groups set sights on 2014 candidates
Shannon Watts sat down at her kitchen table in Indianapolis days after a massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut claimed the lives of 20 children. She had a plan to create an organization that would be so loud, so unrelenting that Congress could no longer remain silent on the issue of gun control. She gathered the best naggers out there who had a solid reputation of getting a job done; moms.
“The horrible massacre in Sandy Hook changed the opinions and feelings of moms,” says Watts, the founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. “We are not going to send our kids to school with bulletproof backpacks and shields. We need a lot done in Congress, and if it doesn’t happen, we are going to be a force to be reckoned with in the midterms.”
Polling shows a wide gender gap on gun control. Women overwhelmingly support stronger gun control measures, while men are more divided. A Pew poll released in January showed nearly 70 percent of women supported reinstating an assault weapons ban and support for stronger background checks was topping out an nearly 90 percent.
In just three months, Watts says the outpouring from North Dakota to Texas has led to the creation of an organization with 80,000 members and 80 chapters nationwide. Moms Demand Action is working to train moms how to become activists to force a limit on high-capacity magazines and so-called assault weapons as well as to pass universal background checks.
But with almost two years until the 2014 elections it’s unclear if groups like Moms Demand Action will be able to keep the gun-control debate in the spotlight long enough for it to take center stage in the midterm election.
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