In the past decade, the Toledo community and America as a whole has seen an alarming trend of rising gun violence, to the degree that many schools and establishments are changing their policies to protect the innocents who are so often targeted. The only problem is that the preventative measures proposed and enacted aren’t enough for many in this country who feel the problem isn’t being addressed with the care and respect it deserves.
One such group is Moms Demand Action, a grassroots organization which started on December 15, 2012— the day after the infamous Sandy Hook school shooting which left 26
victims in its wake, 20 of whom were children.
Shannon Watts, a mother of five and a former communications executive, took to Facebook the day after the attack to share her worries with the world, as well as her belief that Americans can and should do better to reduce the number of gun related deaths in this country. As of 2020, America saw a record number of gun related casualties, with 45,222 recorded in the CDC database on gun deaths. This is a 14% increase from 2019, and a whopping 43% increase from 2009, a full decade prior.
Moms Demand Action views these statistics as unacceptable, and thus they remain as passionate as ever in their battle to decrease the number of firearm related deaths. They’re strong proponents for enforced background checks, citing that properly performed background checks have prevented over 3.5 million illegal gun sales in the last two decades.
Their website, momsdemandaction.org, hosts a vast array of information and statistics gathered over the course of their fight, including a detailed section tackling common myths about gun ownership and firearm violence, as well as how to safely store firearms in the home where children may be present.
John Foley, a volunteer with the organization, is only one of many such driven and dedicated people working tirelessly to make streets and public places a little safer for everyone. Like everyone involved in this fight, John has seen his fair share of push-back from both people and lawmakers alike. “Sometimes it’s quite frustrating because of all the legislative action and all the violence that we see. It’s a hard fight and it’s a long-standing problem that has to be addressed.”
John is a retired educator, as well as a proud and loving father and grandfather. For him, the near constant school shootings and violence toward the most vulnerable of our population were heart-wrenching.
“It just seems like we needed to do something and that action wasn’t coming from the legislation to do more to try to solve a problem that was affecting way too many people.”
A growing concern
Moms Demand Action has grown from a small Facebook group to a nationwide effort, with a chapter of the organization now established in every US state. The group frequently enters the political arena to petition for stronger laws restricting access to guns for those who shouldn’t have one.
One of their biggest fights is the universal passing of Red Flag laws, which have been accepted in seventeen states and will allow the family members or law enforcement to intervene on behalf of someone who may be a danger to themselves or others with a firearm. The concerned individuals have the right to work with the local court of law to restrict the individual’s access to guns for a temporary window of time. This can be an effective purchase of time to help prevent violent attacks and gun-related suicides.
Most tragically of all, the page features a section dedicated to stories of both survivors and
victims, retelling the sorrowful tales of those who have been impacted by the rising epidemic of gun violence in our nation. Reading through all of them, a word that comes up many times is ‘senseless’. Pointless tragedies that robbed too many people of lives and treasured loved ones, often as a result of a nearby argument they weren’t even a part of that got out of hand.
John Foley wants people to understand that we can and should be doing better for the sake of those at risk of gun violence, that proper methods should be utilized in order to allow for more responsible gun ownership; “ Universal background checks, red flag laws that’ll protect people who are threatened, and safe storage provisions that’ll require people to safely store guns so that they don’t get in the wrong hands.”