Moms Take a Stand Against Guns
By Meghan Fay, Assistant Editor

Instead of spending Mother’s Day at home surrounded by loved ones, hundreds of thousands of moms rallied with their families for the Million Mom March on the National Mall to put an end to gun violence.

Just a day before an estimated 750,000 organized for sensible gun laws a 12-year-old boy shot his 10-year-old cousin in Powder Spring, Ga., while in Chicago, 36-hours before the march, five youths and one police officer were wounded by gunfire. On the very day of the march one man was killed and a 15-year-old was critically wounded in two more shootings. The list continues as gun violence takes the lives of 12 children everyday in the United States. 

“If you’re not part of the solution then you are part of the problem,” said Mary Leigh Bleck, president and “chair-mom” of the Million Mom March, a grassroots organization dedicated to pressuring Congress to enact common sense gun laws. “Our ultimate goal is to prevent gun death and to support the victims.” Bleck, a registered nurse, became a leader in the movement for gun violence prevention following the shooting death of her son Matthew during an armed robbery in 1994. 

The success of the march is forcing the organization to mobilize quickly. Currently, the Million Mom March is moving forward with its agenda of lobbying and community outreach. Its fiscal sponsor, the Bell Campaign, a national grassroots movement to prevent gun violence and to support the victims, families and friends of people who have suffered gun trauma, will create a 501(c)(4) lobbying organization for Million Mom March supporters to channel their activism into an effort for common sense gun policy. The Million Mom March’s 501(c)(3) educational and advocacy organization will now be known as the Million Mom March Foundation. 

The Million Mom March organizers are calling for more uniform handgun controls that would include registration and licensing, longer waiting periods and a one-gun-a-month purchasing limit. “For too long we’ve talked in broad generalities – do you believe in gun control?  -- and that’s not good enough,” said Bleck, whose first priority is to survey all candidates and elected officials regarding their stance on specific gun control issues. 

Not Everyone Is On Mom’s Side

Although thousands of mothers have banned together to test their political clout on the issue of gun control, other organizations such as the Second Amendment Sisters and the National Rifle Association (NRA) are sticking to their guns that it is their Constitutional right to bear arms. 

Just eight blocks from the Million Mom marchers about 1,000 Second Amendment Sisters gathered. “I was proud to be a part of it with my daughter. I want to try to preserve my Second Amendment Rights,” said Ken Garrett who came from Alabama to march in the Armed Informed Mother’s March sponsored by the Second Amendment Sisters.

Historically, these groups have been successful in heading off any significant gun legislation. President Clinton believes that it is Moms who will make the difference.

White House Is On Mom’s Side

The president, who is encouraging mothers to take on the gun lobby, wants legislation that will close the loophole that permits firearm purchases at gun shows without background checks, ban the import of large-capacity ammunition clips and require child safety locks to be included on all new handguns.

Clinton singles out Maryland as a leader in gun-control legislation. Maryland was the first state to require built-in locks on handguns along with other gun controls.

Maryland’s Groundbreaking Initiative

The legislation, which takes effect October 1, 2000, requires any new handgun sold in Maryland after this date be sold with an external safety lock. By January 1, 2003 any new handguns sold in the state must be equipped with an integrated mechanical safety device to prevent children and other unauthorized users from firing the handgun. Ballistic fingerprinting of shell casings will be required for all new handguns prior to sale. In addition, Maryland Police Training Commission is required to adopt regulations for a certified firearms safety training course and require applicants for a regulated firearms purchase, rental or transfer to complete a safety training course.

Other enhancements for state gun control include increasing the protection of children by placing a mandatory minimum sentence of five years for the illegal possession of a firearm by a felon previously convicted for a violent crime or drug offense; and prohibiting any person who as a juvenile committed a violent delinquent act from possessing a handgun until age 30.

According to Michael Morrill, Director of Communications for the Maryland Governor’s Office, Maryland has a history of anti-gun legislation and the state is considered ahead of the pack when it comes to legislation on handguns, but is in the middle of the pack for long gun legislation. He believes Maryland’s leadership on this issue will encourage other states to introduce similar legislation.
159 Burgin Parkway | Quincy, MA 02169
617-471-4445 | Fax 617-770-3339