Mom Demand Actions rally in Collingswood

Gathering recognizes efforts at gun-violence prevention

The Moms Demand Action organization began as a Facebook page more than 10 years ago, after the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, that killed 20 children and six adults. (EMILY LIU/The Sun)

Community members from across Camden County gathered at the Collingswood Grand Ballroom for a rally and luncheon on April 13 sponsored by the gun control group Moms Demand Action.

The event was held to acknowledge gun violence prevention efforts and recognize Moms Demand Action founder Shannon Watts, who will step down after 11 years with the organization.

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Speakers included Denise Spaulding, board president for the Institute for the Development of Education in the Arts (IDEA); Robin Cogan, who lost two family members to violence; Shani Nuckols, the state co-leader for Moms Demand Action; and other community partners.

Moms Demand Action began as a Facebook page more than 10 years ago, after the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, that killed 20 children and six adults.

“I bet that ordinary people – particularly moms– could take on the wealthiest and most powerful special interest in American history,” said Watts. “I bet that if we harnessed our collective anger at a system that forced our kids to grow up hiding under desks because our lawmakers would not stand up to the NRA, we could change the course of history. And that is exactly what we have done.”

There is now a chapter of the organization in every state. Moms Demand Action is part of Everytown for Gun Safety, another gun violence prevention organization with nearly 10 million supporters. 

“We aren’t just trying to pass an assault weapons ban,” Watts noted. “We want background checks on all gun sales, we want to pass red flag laws, we want to pass secure storage, we want to unlock dollars for community violence intervention programs and more.”

While her group’s initial focus was on school shootings, Watts said that has  shifted to reducing all daily gun violence in this country.

“What you quickly realize is that it’s not just the school shootings and the mass shootings,” she explained. “Those are about 1% of the gun violence in this country. But it’s really the day-to-day gun violence that’s killing 120 people in America (per day, according to the CDC) and wounding hundreds more.  

“And so this is a complex issue and it deserves a holistic look at solutions.”

Among its achievements – passing gun safety laws and spreading awareness – Watts is proudest of federal legislation Moms Demand Action helped to get passed, the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. Among other things, it is meant to  strengthen red-flag laws. 

“We finally passed federal gun-safety legislation for the first time in 26 years last summer,” she recalled. “It’s just one step on a much larger journey, but it will save thousands and thousands of lives and it really broke that log jam.”

During her presentation at the rally, Watts emphasized conversations about secure gun storage through the SMART program, which stands for Secure, Model, Ask, Recognize and Tell, the five steps to raising awareness of the storage issue. 

She also spoke of red flag laws – or  “extreme risk protection orders” – that   temporarily restrict a person’s access to guns if he or she is a risk to themselves or others.

According to the Gun Violence Archive, as of April 14, there have already been 11,981 gun-violence deaths in America; 151 mass shootings; and 419 teenagers killed.

“I don’t think anyone can hear about gun violence and be numb to it,” Watts emphasized. “I think sometimes what we mistake for numbness is actually trauma.”

To learn more about Moms Demand Action, visit

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