Can a million moms rise up against assault weapons?
In the San Francisco Bay Area, where U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein wrote the first assault weapons law that expired in 2004, it’s more bullish than that. If you look on the Bay Area Facebook page for 1 Million Moms 4 Gun Control, motherhood feels powerful.
“There are currently 4 million NRA members and 80 million mothers in the US,” commented Maribel Andonian, of Cupertino, on the Bay Area chapter page for the One Million Moms For Gun Control. “We ARE stronger than the gun manufacturers but we do have to stand up and fight this fight. We can do this!”
After just five weeks of organizing, Saturday marks the public coming-out of mothers who want to act on the idea that commonsense gun control has a place next to the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms.
Led by Marin moms Cynthia Pillsbury of Larkspur and Amanda Mortimer and moms from Los Altos Hills, Los Altos, Mountain View and Atherton, Bay Area members of 1 Million Moms 4 Gun Control will walk from Crissy Field in San Francisco, supporting the March on Washington for Gun Control, which the group is co-sponsoring.
“The conversations have been dominated by politics and profits—but now moms are speaking out,” said Kim Samek of Los Altos Hills, a mother of two.
“There is no way those things are as important as our kids.”
She and several Peninsula women who define themselves as mothers—just highly educated and high-powered ones—returned Thursday night from Washington D.C. to support Feinstein, who introduced gun control legislation Wednesday. “There are “literally dozens of bills introduced in the House as well,” Samek said. “We want to be part of something where we are actually doing something.”
Samek, an estate attorney, remembers watching the news unfold of the Sandy Hook School shootings in disbelief. The day after that, she discovered Shannon Watts’ Facebook page. It clicked with her.
“On the day of Sandy Hook—I have a six year old—I thought, ‘it could have been me,’” she said. “And those parents, they’re they're dealing with so much. We need to do something so it can't happen again.”
She contacted Watts and asked if there was a chapter in the San Francisco Bay Area, and Watts said, no—would Samek like to put up a local Facebook page? So she did. Then she talked to a childhood friend, Ronit Bodner, and Christine Tachner, a Mountain View mother she met from her kids’ preschool. From there it snowballed... In that classic mom-in-Silicon Valley-networking kind of way. They now have 1,700 “likes” on the Facebook Page. Bodner recruited Sara Smirin of Los Altos and Michelle Sandberg in Atherton. They found themselves talking about what to do—the same way as Watts was in Indiana. They joined forces.
Tachner said she stopped saying, "Why isn't someone doing something about this?" and started asking herself, "Why am I not doing something about this?"
This is the opportunity to make a real change, “instead of talking about it,” Samek said.
“This” is what the moms call “commonsense gun control.” They are not for banning guns, not for taking guns away from people, Samek said. They support guns for hunting, sporting, and personal protection. But, she asked “Do we need semi-automatic weapons with magazine capacity for 30 rounds? Without a background check on the Internet? No.”
They support reporting of large sales of ammunition to the federal Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms. "The shooter in Aurora had tens of thousands of rounds of ammunition," Samek said incredulously.
They organized offline, too. Less than two weeks ago, Watts flew out to their organizational meeting at Atherton pediatrician Michelle Sandberg’s home, where Sandberg, a physician at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, has been providing a public health perspective on gun violence. Samek is now general counsel of the national group.
Tachner, Pillsbury and Mortimer are heading up the plans for the walk in San Francisco. With Jennifer DiBrienza of Palo Alto, they are just catching their breaths after their whirlwind, less-than-24-hour-trip to Washington to support the introduction of Feinstein’s bill. Perhaps understandably, the march at Crissy Field will not be a “march.”
“It’s a stroll, we’ll have a lot of mothers with strollers,” Samek said drolly.
With members from Marin County to San Jose and the East Bay, (“and everywhere in the middle”), the group is trying to engage the entire Bay Area. “We're looking to grow our membership even more. How to get them involved as well, to make sure their voices are heard. They are looking to engage more mothers, in ways outside of Facebook, she said.
The stroll may be a way to do it, in a mom-meets-mom-over-kids kind of way. Without much time to organize, the point is not to get a million moms to Crissy Field, it’s awareness, said Bodner. “We want it known, we want our collective voices to gather, and we want to support the moms and dads who are marching in D.C. We want to feel connected and get the word out. We’ll see.
“I’ll be there with my three kids.”
Saturday's walk is 10 a.m. at Crissy Field walking and bike path in San Francisco. Walkers will assemble at the East Beach parking lot near the Beach Hut Cafe & Snack Bar (NOT the Warming Hut on the west end).
Event organizers describe it this way: "This is not a rally or a march, rather a casual walk along the waterfront. It's an opportunity for supporters of this cause to get together, to hold signs and wear hearts, and to show our support and solidarity with those rallying in Washington, D.C. that day. If you arrive late, just start walking and look for our signs."