When it comes to fighting for stricter gun control laws in the United States, Nancy de Pastino offers some interesting statistics. The National Rifle Association often boasts it has more than 4 million members nationwide. That may be, de Pastino says, but there are also some 80 million mothers in this country, all of whom can sympathize with the horrors that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary two months ago.
“Yeah, the NRA’s powerful, but how powerful are moms?” asks de Pastino, head of the recently formed Montana chapter of grassroots nonprofit Moms Demand Action. “It’s a good number to keep in mind when I’m feeling little.”
And de Pastino does feel little. Shannon Watts, a mother from Indiana, founded Moms Demand Action, formerly known as One Million Moms for Gun Control, in the wake of Sandy Hook and has since established nearly 80 separate chapters across the country. De Pastino’s chapter, meanwhile, boasts fewer than 100 members so far. Montana is in many ways a “Wild West state still,” de Pastino says, and while the response has been overwhelmingly positive, she has found speaking up for gun control legislation in the state “intimidating.”
It’s a point Missoula Democratic Sen. Sue Malek understands all too well. Malek, who, as a mother, intends to join de Pastino’s cause, says gun control legislation is a particularly sensitive topic in Montana. When Malek speaks up as a lawmaker, she says she anticipates hundreds of emails, “and some of them will be threatening.”