If you’re not following Mom's Demand Action Founder and Everytown for Gun Safety activist Shannon Watts on Twitter, then you really should be. In the wake of the Sutherland Springs mass shooting, she truly put Texas Governor Greg Abbott in his place.
Abbott did the stereotypical meaningless and completely cliche “thoughts and prayers” bit, and as you obviously know, thinking and praying is not taking action. If you clicked on this, then you most likely read or would be interested in reading our essay on the total worthlessness that is the act of tweeting thoughts and prayers.
You’re probably also ready to take some action, and you’ve definitely come to the right place. We had an exclusive Q&A with Shannon Watts about sensible gun control and the organizations that are fighting to try and get that achieved.
Join/Donate to Everytown for Gun Safety, and add your name to the list of those sending a message to Congress
Follow Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense on Twitter
The Patriotic Dissenter: So you founded Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America shortly after Sandy Hook, what are some of the major achievements that you are most proud of since the organization was founded?
Shannon Watts: Since the founding of Moms Demand Action five years ago, volunteers have helped to beat back the National Rifle Association's priority legislation across the country, while passing stronger gun laws to help keep Americans safe. We’ve also elected gun sense candidates, forced corporations to consider gun safety as they build or manage their organizations, and worked with gun owners towards a culture of gun safety and responsible gun storage.
Patriotic Dissenter: How about Everytown for Gun Safety- how have you seen that grassroots organization grow and develop since you've become a part of it?
Shannon Watts: When I started Moms Demand Action as a Facebook page nearly 5 years ago, I would have never imagined that together with Everytown for Gun Safety, we would now have more than 4 million supporters, nearly 70,000 active volunteers, and a chapter in every state. We have become the most passionate and organized counterweight the gun lobby has ever seen.
Over the last 5 years, we have influenced change around the culture of gun safety through our programs, campaigns, and partnerships.
We have accomplished this change by creating programs like Be SMART to promote responsible gun storage; raising public awareness through campaigns like Wear Orange for National Gun Violence Awareness Day; and partnering with businesses like Starbucks to implement policies to prohibit customers from carrying guns in their stores.
Shannon Watts: The 2016 election was a major defeat for women everywhere and a big wakeup call for me. The silver lining was that it inspired me to help get women more engaged in the political process, which led me to form Rise to Run and join the board of Emerge America.
These two organizations are activating the next generation of female political leaders by recruiting and training women and girls to run for office.
We are seeing the direct impact of these programs, with a surge in women running in 2017 and preparing to run in 2018.
Patriotic Dissenter: What's your message to those who get discouraged in the battle for gun sense laws?
Shannon Watts: Gun safety is a winning issue. Since our founding, we have helped beat back dangerous legislation across the country, defeating guns on campus bills in 26 out of 31 states; defeating guns in K-12 schools in 28 out of 29 states; and defeating permit-less carry bills in 25 out of 33 states.
We are also working tirelessly to keep the guns out of the hands of dangerous people, and in the last 5 years we’ve helped to strengthen laws in 25 states and Washington, DC to keep guns away from domestic abusers.
TPD: If Sandy Hook and the Congressional softball game shootings weren't enough to finally get our lawmakers to act, what would possibly be a bridge too far for them? What would finally be a wake up call?
Shannon Watts: If you look at our wins in the states, we are proving that an energized base of volunteers pushing for better gun safety laws can defeat the gun lobby.
Lawmakers are paying attention to the growing chorus of voices demanding change.
We are committed to prioritizing public safety through sensible laws and policies that will protect the American people while respecting the rights of lawful gun owners everywhere.
TPD: You said on MSNBC's the Ed Show, back in 2013 that you, and your daughters get death threats and threats of sexual violence daily. Is that still the case?
And have any of these deplorable actions ever obstructed you from your activities?
Shannon Watts: I’ve received all kinds of threats and intimidations over the years, but I’m more focused on the success of our movement, from changing laws to winning elections. We know that more than 90% of Americans support common sense gun laws, like a background check on every gun sale.
My focus is on making sure lawmakers hear those Americans.
TPD: You really destroyed S.E. Cupp a couple weeks ago in a Twitter debate. It looked like you really struck a nerve to set her off like that?
It looked like she didn't understand the difference between lobbying and advocacy?
Shannon Watts: What I wanted to make clear is that the NRA pushes an extremely dangerous agenda that is fueled by division, fear, and hatred.
We need more commonsense dialogue in the gun safety conversation, not fear-mongering and race-baiting tactics designed to protect the gun lobby’s bottom line.
TPD: Finally, what can the average reader of this post do to get involved in fighting for the cause of common sense gun laws? what's the first step they can take?
Shannon Watts: Start by texting JOIN to 644-33 to join us! We have a chapter in every state and are growing our local groups across the country, so find the nearest group to you. We will give you the tools to call and write your elected officials and take on leadership roles in our grassroots organization.
There are millions of Americans out there who want better gun laws, so we need to continue making our voices heard.
Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net and TheBank.News, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, a former writer for the Washington Times, NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com, currently contributes regularly to WGN CLTV and the Tribune corporation blogging community Chicago Now.
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