The Moms Demand Action chapter for the west metro region organized an hour-long meeting at the Edina Library on June 1 to engage communities and take concerted action to help prevent gun violence.
As attendees filed into a library event room, every chair was soon occupied, and those who continued to stream into the room were forced to stand around the room’s periphery to make space for many more.
Eventually, the event organizers decided to take the meeting outside onto the library’s lawn to accommodate the number of attendees. Clearly, the events in Buffalo, N.Y., and Uvalde, Texas, had struck a chord with many in the west metro.
The meeting started with a short introduction to Moms Demand Action. The organization was founded by Shannon Watts, a mother of five, who initially created the organization as a Facebook group after the Sandy Hook shootings in 2012.
The organization eventually expanded nationally, with local chapters now existing in every state. Eden Prairie is currently part of the west metro group, along with cities like Edina, Bloomington, Minnetonka and St. Louis Park.
Moms Demand Action exists today as part of an umbrella organization called Everytown for Gun Safety, the largest gun violence prevention organization in the country with over 8 million supporters. The organization aims to bring awareness to gun violence and to push for gun safety laws.
As of late, the scale and number of shootings have captivated the attention of much of the nation after a large-scale rise in violent crime and mass shootings in Uvalde and Buffalo.
Attendees at the event acknowledged this reality by paying tribute to the victims in Uvalde and Buffalo by participating in a moment of silence. During this moment of silence, attendees read off the names and ages of each victim in a powerful display of solidarity.
Following this moment of solidarity, Erin Zamoff, the main organizer of the meeting, drew attention to the fact that roughly “110 Americans are shot and killed per day.”
In fact, just as the meeting was beginning, another shooting erupted in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Zamoff and other gun control advocates have argued that these deaths represent the natural result of putting the “profits of gun manufacturers over children’s lives.”
The issue of shootings and gun violence will likely continue to be a major concern as the summer progresses, with possible political implications as the midterm elections approach in November.
As one attendee put it, “school shootings are a uniquely American phenomenon.” Because of this understanding, Moms Demand Action believes that the issue can be dealt with through political activism and work in spreading awareness about gun safety.
One form of political activism that the event organizers addressed was electoral campaigning. Zamoff described how Moms Demand Action endorses candidates who fulfill what is called the “gun sense distinction.” This is essentially a survey sent out to every candidate, regardless of political affiliation, running for elected office who supports the demands of Moms Demand Action. These demands include supporting red flag laws, raising the age to buy a gun to 21, and enacting universal background checks.
In attendance were also several candidates running for elected offices, such as State Rep. Steve Elkins (DFL), who is running for re-election in District 50B, Alice Mann (DFL), running for State Senate in District 50, and State Rep. Laurie Pryor (DFL), running for re-election in District 49A.
The organizers also outlined non-electoral courses of action which can be taken. This included observing Wear Orange Weekend, a national campaign to bring awareness to gun violence from June 3-5. They also discussed the Be Smart initiative.
This initiative is designed to help parents and adults normalize conversations about gun safety in order to take responsible action to prevent child gun deaths and injuries. In addition, organizers stressed the importance of gun security and working with responsible gun owners to ensure that ammunition and guns are safely secured and stored separately.
While it remains to be seen if the large west metro gathering is indicative of a larger swing in public opinion over gun control in the west metro, Moms Demand Action is vigorously planning to continue taking action and spreading its message.
The organization is planning several events for June and July. This includes a statewide new member meetup on June 9 via Zoom, a Mothers Against Community Gun Violence walkathon on June 11 at Lake Nokomis, and a march at the annual Edina 4th of July Parade.