Shannon Watts hosts virtual conversation with candidates from Iowa, Missouri, Oregon, Texas and South Carolina
Over 200 Moms Demand Action volunteers are running for office up and down the ticket this November
NEW YORK – Today, Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action, hosted a virtual conversation with five Moms Demand Action volunteers who are medical professionals that are running for office this November to discuss how gun violence is a public health issue and what’s at stake in the midterm elections this November.
Joining Shannon Watts in the conversation were Iowa State Senator Sarah Trone Garriott, an ordained minister in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America who has served as a hospital chaplain and a parish pastor; Missouri State Representative Patty Lewis, who has more than 20 years of health care experience as an ICU/Critical Care Registered Nurse, as well as a Healthcare Executive; Oregon State Representative Dr. Lisa Reynolds, who was a pediatrician for 20 years with a particular focus on mental illness and the intersections of mental health with public health; Democratic Nominee for Texas State Representative Dr. Suleman Lalani, an internal medicine physician with 20 years experience, who has focused on poverty and equity in health care; and Democratic Nominee for South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District Dr. Annie Andrews, a pediatrician and researcher who has worked extensively on pediatric firearm injuries.
“Many of our volunteers get involved in the gun violence prevention movement because they work in health care and witness firsthand the tragic outcomes of our gun violence epidemic,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. “Now they’re continuing that work in statehouses and on the campaign trail because they know how critical it is to pass life-saving laws to help keep our communities safe.”
“I was often with patients and families when folks came into the emergency room when the worst news was shared, and that doesn’t leave you,” said Iowa State Senator Sarah Trone Garriott. “I would see people in those moments, but as a Pastor, I would encounter folks living with the legacy of that loss, that trauma, that violence. We can’t ignore the toll it’s taking on our community – not just in that moment, but for years.”
“Many of the patients I saw might have recovered, however, had lifelong impacts – whether it be cognitive or physical impacts – from their gun injuries. I also had many patients that we couldn’t save, and I was there at the bedside comforting their family members,” said Missouri State Representative Patty Lewis. “In the state of Missouri, we have some of the loosest gun laws in the entire country. But I will continue to advocate for commonsense gun legislation.”
“I cannot believe that we are now seeing that gun violence is the number one killer of children and teens aged 1-19,” said Oregon State Representative Dr. Lisa Reynolds. “We absolutely have to change that. We have to bring the same verve and energy to this as when we worked to reduce deaths from motor vehicle accidents.”
“We need to be more proactive than reactive,” said Democratic Nominee for Texas State Representative Dr. Suleman Lalani. “We need to put some systems in place, and be more proactive in this regard to prevent the injuries and trauma that is happening.”
“When I decided to become a pediatrician, I envisioned a career of treating kids with infections, pneumonia, diabetes and seizures. I never imagined how many children I would care for who had been shot,” said Democratic Nominee for South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District Dr. Annie Andrews. “I really believe that it is my duty — as someone who has had the privilege to serve these patients at the bedside — to share their stories so that other people can understand the real impact of gun violence on children.”
America’s gun violence epidemic kills 110 people every single day, wounds hundreds more, and is the leading cause of death for children and teens. Gun violence is a public health issue that these candidates and elected officials have been on the frontlines of, both as medical professionals and Moms Demand Action volunteers.
Last year, Everytown for Gun Safety Victory Fund launched “Demand a Seat,” a new program that trains volunteers and gun violence survivors to run for office and work on campaigns, with over 250 volunteers graduating to date. The program will invest $3 million in educational training and mentorship opportunities for grassroots volunteers considering campaigns at the local, state, and federal levels. More information on Demand a Seat can be found here.
Since 2017, hundreds of Moms Demand Action volunteer leaders have run for elected office and dozens have won seats – from town council and school board to U.S. Congress. This year, a historic number of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action volunteers are running for office, building a bench of gun violence prevention advocates who are also elected officials. A full list of endorsed candidates is available here.