Women who are passionate about social issues are being heard around the world. Gloucester Township was graced with the presence of one of those women during the Women’s Health Expo on Saturday, May 18 at Camden County College.
This year, Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, was the guest speaker for the expo, and she engaged everyone in the topic of keeping children safe by putting an end to gun violence.
Watts, a mother of five, is from Colorado. She has seen gun violence and tragedy multiple times, but the straw that broke the camel’s back was after the Sandy Hook Elementary Shooting in late 2012. The next day, Watts started a Facebook group with the message that all Americans can and should do more to reduce gun violence.
Watts talked about how her grassroots campaign and others are weakening the gun lobby stranglehold on the political system.
“We’ve helped lawmakers at the local, state and federal level support this issue by showing up in our red shirts and by showing that we will have their backs, and if they don’t do the right thing, we will have their jobs,” said Watts.
Her grassroots campaign has helped pass laws, like having to do proper background checks before the sale of firearms.
Moms Demand Action would like to see Congress pass a federal red flag law to help mitigate dangerous access to firearms.
In light of being at a women’s health fair, Watts wanted to remind people that the women who fight these battles are tough and are committed.
“Women’s lives hang in the balance, but women are also the ones on the front lines fighting this battle for common-sense gun reform. We are winning – that is the message that I try to bring everywhere that I go,” said Watts.
Brett Sabo, the New Jersey chapter leader of the Moms Demand Action, moderated the question and answer portion and spoke glowingly about Watts.
“I think she’s a great representative of the power that women are finding within themselves. She’s a great representative of the balance that women are wanting to find a life, taking care of the families, making a difference in the world in the communities, and she is a really good role model,” said Sabo.
Sabo started working with the campaign in May 2014.
Watts discussed how she has been the recent target of attacks from the National Rifle Association through Twitter. However, she is taking it in stride and not letting threats slow her down.
“I am happy to serve as the tip of the spear. So that it’s like, look at me, I will distract you while all these amazing women do the hard work in the statehouses and in the boardroom. I refuse to be silenced or intimidated while lives are on the line,” said Watts.
Moms Demand Action is encouraging people to wear Orange on June 7 for National Gun Violence Awareness Day.