BY CRAIG COLEY
When 20 first-graders and six staff members were fatally shot at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, on December 14, 2012, Rachel Guglielmo and Courtney Daily reached their breaking points. “That night, I decided I can’t keep getting upset about this issue if I’m not going to actively work to keep things like this from happening,” says Daily, 41, the mother of three.
Guglielmo, 51, a mother of triplets, had the same reaction. After writing letters to her senators and receiving unsatisfactory responses, Guglielmo founded the Bloomington chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a national organization started by a mother in Zionsville, Indiana. Moms Demand Action has become full-time work for Guglielmo, who is now the co-leader of the organization’s state chapter. Daily leads the Bloomington chapter, which she says has more than 1,000 supporters—people who have signed up to receive e-mails—and about 300 active volunteers. Membership is not limited to mothers or women, and Guglielmo says most of those involved were not politically active until the issue of gun violence energized them.
Moms Demand Action supports legislation such as background checks for all gun purchases. In the last session of the Indiana legislature, it joined law enforcement groups in opposing a bill that would have allowed people to carry loaded handguns in public without a permit and another that would have permitted loaded guns in public schools during certain activities.
Moms Demand Action is also involved in promoting gun safety. Members speak to groups about keeping guns away from children, and set up table booths at school events and health fairs. Daily says people are often surprised that they pass out gun locks at these events. “We recognize that people are going to have guns in the home,” Daily says. “Rather than trying to fight that, we’ll hand them a gun lock and say, ‘Please be safe and lock it up.’ Because the fact is, 70 percent of children know where their parents store their guns. Parents will tell you they have no idea, but the kids know.”
Guglielmo says the group is committed to being a sustained force for change. “You can’t solve it with a march,” Guglielmo says. “It’s the day-to-day slog of democracy.”
To learn more, text “join” to 64433 or visit momsdemandaction.org.