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"Moms Demand Action" Sees Surge of Gun-Control Supporters

Of countries with at least 10 million people, only Yemen has more mass shootings per capita than the United States. (momsdemandaction.org)
Of countries with at least 10 million people, only Yemen has more mass shootings per capita than the United States. (momsdemandaction.org)
March 5, 2018

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Standing room only is now the norm at meetings for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, following the school shooting that left 17 dead in Florida last month.

The group, which has a South Dakota chapter, was started in 2012 by Shannon Watts, after 20 children and six adults were killed at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. Watts said the group supports tougher background checks, limits on where guns can be carried, and "red flag laws" allowing intervention when a person known to have access to guns is exhibiting signs of violence.

"Those laws allow police and families to petition a judge for a temporary restraining order that will remove the guns from someone who seems to be a danger to themselves or others,” Watts said. “It could have been very effective in the state of Florida, for example."

She said only five states have red flag laws. Moms Demand Action meetings have brought hundreds of people together in Alabama, Missouri, Oregon, Virginia and other states in recent days, with new chapters forming weekly.

Watts said she believes America is at a crossroads over gun control. She pointed to dozens of companies cutting their ties with the National Rifle Association, plus national school walkouts and a march on Washington scheduled for March 24.

Watts said families now know "thoughts and prayers" for school-shooting victims are not enough.

"But we have to make sure this isn't just a moment and it is a movement, and that we are looking toward the midterm elections to effect real change,” she said. “And that requires everyone to get off the sidelines and support theses teens. It's not up to them to change our country, it's up to all of us."

Some states also are working to pass stricter gun laws, but South Dakota is not among them.

A bill supported by the NRA and passed by state legislators last week now awaits the governor's signature. House Bill 1271 allows people to carry a firearm for self defense on the premises of any nonpublic school, church or house of worship, or a nonpublic school located on the premises of a church or other house of worship.

Roz Brown, Public News Service - SD