For Seaside Signal
Gun violence in America was the subject of a presentation given on Thursday, Aug. 29, at the Seaside Public Library, hosted by Indivisible North Coast. About 30 people came out to meet and listen to Hilary Uhlig, Oregon Chapter Leader of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.
Uhlig, who lives in Hillsboro, has two kids in high school.
“Both have been in school lockdown situations,” she said. “Both of them texted me during those lockdowns, ‘Mom, I love you.’”
It was that experience that prompted Uhlig to become actively involved in standing up to the gun lobby. Moms Demand Action is a grassroots movement of Americans fighting for public safety measures to protect people from gun violence.
“We all know about mass shootings because they make headlines,” Uhlig said.
Her discussion came only a day before a shooter in Odessa, Texas, killed eight people and 21 wounded, in a month in which 53 people died in mass shootings. So far this year, there have been at least 38 shootings with three or more fatalities, The New York Times reports.
One hundred people are killed every day in America by guns and mostly those deaths never make headlines, she added.
According to research done by Every Town for Gun Safety, a nonprofit organization advocating for gun control and against gun violence, 61.2% of gun violence is suicide by gun. Mass shootings make up less than 1% of gun deaths.
“There is a myth that policies and programs don’t matter,” Uhlig said. “But in New York State, gun deaths are down 24% since 2008 because of more regulation. Missouri, on the other hand, which has lax regulation, has experienced a 55% increase in gun deaths.”
Moms Demand Action is a nonpartisan group with 6 million supporters nationwide. They advocate for responsible gun storage, disarming domestic abusers, and updating background checks. They’ve been instrumental in 17 states passing Extreme Risk/Red Flag laws that empower family members and law enforcement to petition courts to temporarily limit a person’s access to guns if they are proven to be a danger to themselves or others. The organization also plays a role in identifying gun sense candidates and vetting them; so far, 3,000 candidates have signed up. One thousand of them were elected.
In Oregon, Tiffiny Mitchell was a gun sense candidate. U.S. senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley were already on board with gun sense.
One of the purposes for Uhlig’s visit to Seaside is she is looking for volunteers to establish a Moms Demand Action base on the coast.
They have chapters in every state and within those chapters, hundreds of groups. Interested parties can also contact onethingtodo.org and besmartforkids.org to find out about other volunteer opportunities. Trainings are available to become a Moms Demand Action team leader or learn how to give presentations.
I spent a little time after Uhlig’s presentation on the Moms Demand Action website. There’s a lot to read. I admit I was drawn to the survivor stories, personal recollections with heart-breaking titles like, “When My Daughter Became a Victim, I Could No Longer Be Silent,” and “My Son Was Living His Dream When a Bullet Ended It.”
The site includes success stories as well, such as the March 10 defeat of U.S. House Bill 2519, a bill that would have forced public colleges and universities in West Virginia to allow guns on campus.
Other victories this summer happened in June with the signing of a Red Flag law into legislation in Hawaii by Gov. David Ige, and California Gov. Gavin Newsom into the state budget $30 million to support the California Violence Intervention and Prevention grant program. Also in June, Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak signed into effect an Extreme Risk law, requiring responsible storage of firearms and prohibiting the sale and possession of bump stocks.
There’s still a great deal of work to be done.
America’s gun death rate is unique; it’s 10 times higher than other high-income countries.
That’s something to think about.
For more information about Moms Demand Action, log on to momsdemandaction.org.
Whether your interest is how to talk to kids about gun trauma, coping with your own trauma, or rallying for better background checks, it doesn’t hurt to be enlightened.