Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better. It's not.”
― Dr. Seuss, The Lorax
In 2014, I made my first foray into gun sense activism with my video Dear Mom and Dad, which explores the devastating effects of gun violence on our children. For six years after the project’s success, I served as Marin County Public Education Lead for Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense in America, delivering presentations in the community on gun violence, its prevention, and how to keep our country safe.
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My oldest daughter was ten when Sandy Hook happened. In the aftermath, I couldn’t escape my own grief. The news was everywhere, and I knew that it was only a matter of time before it reached my daughter. I dreaded the moment, afraid that when she came to me with her questions, I wouldn’t have the words to answer them.
Sure enough, two days later, she asked, “Mom, a boy in my class said that someone came into a school and shot the kids. Did that happen?”
The question seemed absurd to her, as though it were too awful to be true.
And yet it was.
And she was asking.
And sooner or later, she would know if I lied.
So I told the truth: “Yes honey. A terrible thing happened, and there were some children who died.”
And then I lied: “Don’t worry, sweetheart, you’re safe. I promise.”
After that, I signed every petition I could find. I called my lawmakers. I sent thoughts and prayers every day. Still, I felt like a liar.
I wanted more for my daughter. I wanted her to know I was making her safe. I wanted to tell her “Mommy’s taking care of it” the next time she asked and I wanted to mean it.
I used my skillset as a photographer to make a video called “Dear Mom and Dad”. 90 kids were photographed for the project, representing a generation rocked by gun violence. The video was picked up by several major news outlets, but even as my work went around the world, I still felt like a tiny voice, whispering into the wind. It wasn’t enough. I needed to be louder.
Moms Demand Action turned my whisper into a scream. The organization added my voice to a chorus of seasoned, smart, determined mothers, working under a targeted plan to affect change at local, state and national levels. I was introduced to mothers who shared my fears and outrage, mothers who had gone through the same hard talks with their children. As the Marin Moms Public Education lead, I am not only able to help parents have those hard conversations with their kids, I'm also able to offer data-driven, fact- based ways to keep kids and communities safe.
The work is not instant, and it’s not easy. But the people I’ve met along the way are truly inspiring, and we ARE winning. In June alone, Oregon Moms successfully lobbied for legislation that would keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers, Alabama Moms helped block the expansion of Stand Your Ground laws, and California Moms descended upon the state capital and succeeded in winning triple the amount of funding for gun violence intervention programs in low-income communities.
There are so many ways to get involved. Even if you have only a few minutes a week, you can make a difference.