Meet the real moms for gun safety. Not the phony Astroturf “grassroots” organization, but a genuine grassroots organization of moms from all across America.
What moms have to say about guns has taken more prominence in the gun control debate since the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting. We had the opportunity to talk with Heather Marchese, the founder of One Million Moms Against Gun Control. They don’t have the backing of a billionaire, but they are passionate about their kids, guns, and what they believe will make the world a safer place.
Matt: When did One Million Moms Against Gun Control begin?
Heather: One Million Moms Against Gun Control (1MMAGC) started in January 2013. The Sandy Hook shooting really got to me. I dropped my kids off at school after the shooting and wondered, “What if this happens here?” My kids’ school has one resource officer. So I talked with the school to ask them how would they react to something like the Sandy Hook shooting, and they didn’t really have an answer. I, as a parent, have been able to walk in the school, without having to be buzzed in, or anyone watching me to make sure I go to the office first. I realized my kids are sitting ducks in our schools. We have got to protect our children.
A few days later, I saw Shannon Watts of what is now Moms Demand Action speaking to America as if she spoke for every person who has ever given birth. I’m a mom and she certainly did not speak for me. I thought what she was saying is crazy. Not having protection is what killed those 26 people–those children–in Connecticut. Why would you not want to be protected?
I really am a stay at home mom. I don’t live in a gated community; I live in the real world. I grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania, moved to Baltimore, and now I live in West Virginia, which is not as crazy as the city streets of Baltimore. I’ve seen people that have no defense, and criminals that don’t care, and have no value for human life. Those kind of people don’t care about the laws, because they don’t respect anything. In fact, the only laws that matter when your life is in jeopardy are the laws of physics. We cannot legislate evil away.
Matt: Moms Demand Action has lobbied to, in effect, create more gun-free zones at Starbucks, Staples, and other places. What does 1MMAGC think we should be doing with regards to gun-free zones?
Heather: Gun-free zones are victim-rich, target-rich environments. A sign won’t stop a criminal any more than the law stops them because they don’t care. A law-abiding person will abide by the signs, but not a criminal. So why would businesses ask law-abiding people who have gone through training or a background check to not be armed?
Most states have rigorous background checks and many states require training courses to get a carry license. And many gun owners continue training on their own. They do this to prevent themselves from becoming a victim, not to be armed vigilantes. And it’s their right to defend themselves.
Gun-free zones are a criminal’s best friend. It just gives criminals the opportunity to victimize everyone there. You’re going to wait for the police from 10 to 20 minutes or more to arrive. Everyone could be dead by then. That’s what a gun-free zone does.
Matt: What are some of 1MMAGC’s big accomplishments so far?
Heather: In the last year, 1MMAGC launched. We’ve set up our national webpage. We started on Facebook and learned we needed pages for every state. Then we started forming chapters in each state, and we now have chapters in nearly every state. We’ve testified at state legislatures. Our Colorado chapter was involved very early on with the recall effort that happened last September.
We’ve stopped gun buybacks. We were able to show up at gun buyback events with licensed FFLs (Federal Firearms Licenses, required to commercially sell guns) and sheriffs. There were some that were done illegally with city funds and were shut down.
We’ve changed minds, and that alone is a huge accomplishment; to educate mothers who would never touch a gun, who were against guns because they didn’t know anything about them is a big deal. A few years ago, I was like that. I wouldn’t have touched a gun because I didn’t know anything about them. They seemed scary. But I was taught about them. So seeing a mother like that come to understand what we’re doing, and to come around and say, “You know what? You’re right. How can I buy my first firearm? What can I do?” is a huge accomplishment. One of the greatest gifts that we can give is when one person, or two people, or three people are reached, because it creates a domino effect, and it spreads from person to person, and they can tell others “1MMAGC helped me do it.”
We were at the NRA convention in Indianapolis in 2014, where we got the chance to meet Dana Loesch. Incredible moment, to have Dana run up and hug us. We'll never forget that.
Matt: Tell me about that.
Heather: We met Nikki Goeser, whose husband was killed in front of her in a gun-free zone. She was licensed to carry a gun, but not in the bar where they ran a karaoke business. We also got to spend some time with Larry Pratt of Gun Owners of America.
Matt: Sounds like fun.
Heather: We also helped put on a safety and self-protection showcase. We helped organize it and sent four of our leaders there, including Dani Bryan who is our new Indiana state chapter leader. So we were able to speak about some real options for women to protect themselves. I mean, a rape whistle? Seriously, who comes up with that?
Matt: A Democrat man. What’s something about you that you think would surprise people?
Heather: Most people assume I’m a Republican, and I get called a racist. But actually, my children are mixed race and I’m a registered Democrat. I really didn’t know very much about politics at all, or what the Left is or the Right is. I probably will not vote Democrat again. I’m learning, slowly, that Democrat policies are not good, but the truth is I am a registered Democrat. So when people say “Oh, you’re just another Republican,” they’re wrong.
Matt: What’s coming up next for 1MMAGC?
Heather: We’re going to be launching a campaign called, “Taking aim on zero tolerance.” Right now under schools’ “zero tolerance” policies, kids can’t even point a finger into the shape of a gun or chew a pop tart into the shape of gun. Kids can’t play cowboys and Indians, and just be kids. What happened?
Matt: They’re demonizing guns, gun owners, and gun ownership.
Heather: Absolutely. We are also launching a youth safety program. I’m really excited about this. In my home, we keep our guns locked in our safe. We also talk to our kids about guns and teach them gun safety. I believe that you don’t hide from kids what you don’t want them to know, because that just makes it enticing. They’ll most likely going to find out about it anyway, and that’s where you have accidents. Instead, talk to them about it and teach them about how to responsibly handle guns. When you don’t teach your child the responsibility and the right ways to handle firearms–to carry, load, and secure–that’s when mistakes come in, that’s when accidents happen.
Matt: So a goal of 1MMAGC is to teach parents about how to talk with their children how to safely handle firearms?
Heather: Yes, and instead of just book work, we’re going to take kids to the range with their parents. There will be certified range instructors to teach. It will show them how to handle, clean, and secure a gun. We’re going to do what everyone else seems afraid of: teach them how to safely handle the responsibility, to respect the tool, and also the value of life.
We will be launching a Mom and a Cop training program in Spring 2015. Watch our website and facebook page for updates!
We would also like to be at Congress the next time gun control comes up nationally.
Matt: Sounds great, Heather! Thank you for taking the time to speak with me, and I wish you success as you educate people and reach moms, one person at a time.
Article Originally Published on Brenner Brief
Blog posts are original content written by 1MMAGC moms and dads.