Today, One Million Moms for Gun Control’s New York chapters will go to Albany to support our governor and the legislators who are working to keep our communities safe. New York’s leadership provides a model for every state and the federal government to follow.
— Jaime Pessin, Greater NYC Chapter Leader,
One Million Moms For Gun Control
By JAIME PESSIN
COMMENTARY – The Times Union, Albany, NY
Nearly two months ago, I, like all the mothers of America, confronted my worst nightmare. In the hours and days following the Dec. 14 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary, I searched for a way to tell myself that this was an anomaly, that it could never happen to my precious preschooler, that the scourge of gun violence would never touch our lives.
But after days of crying for the families of Newtown, Conn., I couldn’t ignore some simple facts. Firearm-related deaths are among the top three causes of death among American youth, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. The Children’s Defense Fund reports that eight children a day are killed by firearms in the United States.
Across this country, our kids are dying. If I didn’t push for change, then I would be complicit in the epidemic of gun violence plaguing our schools and our streets.
I wasn’t the only one compelled to act. Shannon Watts, a mother of five in Indiana, started a Facebook page the day after Sandy Hook. She called it “One Million Moms For Gun Control,” and hoped her idea would gain traction. Instead, it caught fire. Chapters started springing up around the country, and I connected with the women who started the Brooklyn branch of the organization.
It’s become increasingly clear that we’re not alone in our determination to seize this moment. In our first six weeks, One Million Moms For Gun Control added more than 60,000 people to our ranks, and started more than 75 chapters around the country. Every day those numbers rise. We’ve marched on Washington, D.C., rallied at City Hall here in New York, and shown our solidarity in events from San Francisco to Boston, from Texas to New Hampshire.
Thankfully, our state legislators, spurred on by Gov. Andrew Cuomo last month, moved past partisanship and embraced the urgency of this issue, passing some of the nation’s strongest gun regulations. The job is not done, though. The NRA and its extremist allies are mobilizing their vocal minority to try to undo New York’s bold leadership. They are using scare tactics and misinformation to try to get these guns back on the streets.
We have to stop them. Today, One Million Moms for Gun Control’s New York chapters will go to Albany to support our governor and the legislators who are working to keep our communities safe. New York’s leadership provides a model for every state and the federal government to follow.
For the women of One Million Moms For Gun Control, Sandy Hook was a call to action. But our movement goes beyond the slaughter of those 20 children in Connecticut. Since that nightmare of a day, at least 1,624 more people in this country have died from gun violence, more than 120 of them children.
So we’re not doing this just to prevent incidents like Sandy Hook. We’re doing it to prevent three siblings in New Mexico — ages 9, 5 and 2 — from being gunned down by their brother, a 15-year-old wielding an assault weapon. We’re doing it to make sure a 6-year-old girl in Ohio won’t accidentally shoot herself with a gun that her father, a convicted felon, wasn’t supposed to have. We’re doing it so that a 17-year-old on his way home from a birthday party in Queens won’t be ambushed by masked men spraying bullets from an AK-47.
As compassionate, moral human beings, we must speak out. As Americans, we must put an end to these senseless deaths. As mothers, we demand action.
Jaime Pessin is head of One Million Moms For Gun Control’s Greater NYC Area chapter. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and son.