By TONIA HILL
The South Side leg of the national Moms Demand Action organization held a meeting Saturday afternoon, March 11, at St Paul & the Redeemer Church, 4945 S. Dorchester Ave., to lay the groundwork for upcoming actions surrounding gun control legislation.
Brenna O’Brien Chicago Chapter lead of Moms Demand Action joined the organization last year following the 2016 Orlando, Fla. nightclub mass shooting. A gunman killed 49 people and wounded 53 people at Pulse, a gay nightclub. She said she felt the need to do something.
“Even though it was the tragedy of the Orlando shooting that made me join it was really seeing our legislators talking about it with the filibuster and the sit-ins with many of our representatives, O’Brien said. “I’m not just one individual anymore. Our legislators are going to do something to change the laws, so I’m onboard a 100 percent. I’m going to help lead Chicago and use our people power to make this happen.”
Before she joined the group, there was not a Chicago organizer. O’Brien points to the size of the city to explain that.
Groups in neighborhoods across the city are being organized she said in Rogers Park, Edgewater, Lakeview/Lincoln Park, Bucktown/Wicker Park and Beverly. Another group is in the works in Ravenswood/Lincoln Square.
“Our goal is to have neighborhood networks all over the city, but we’re all Moms Demand Action we’re just doing things locally. We’re going to our local farmer’s marker our local street festival and handing out information,” O’Brien said.
Moms Demand Action, the national organization, was launched in 2012 in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn., it is a non-partisan grassroots movement to mobilize moms and families to advocate for stricter gun laws.
Members from People for a Safer Society, BUILD Chicago and Purpose over Pain, and the Every Town Survivor Network were present at the meeting as well as residents of the community.
Issues of priority for the group consist of proposed national and state laws involving gun legislation. For instance, the group is in support of a proposed bill in the Illinois State legislature Senate Bill 1291/HB 2354, Senate Bill 1657/HB 2541.
SB 1291/HB 2354 would create a Lethal Violence Order of Protection (LVOP) similar to a domestic restraining order. It would empower immediate family members who are concerned about a loved one hurting themselves or others. It allows family members to petition the courts to remove firearms for a limited amount of time.
Members of Moms Demand Action along with People for a Safer Society will travel to Springfield in support of the legislation on Tuesday, March 14. The bill will be presented before the Illinois Senate Judiciary committee.
SB 1657/HB 2541 or the Gun Dealer Licensing Act would give the state of Illinois the ability encourage better business practices among gun dealers and hold corrupt gun dealers accountable.
According, to the Illinois Gun Violence Prevention Coalition there are loopholes in federal laws that enable dealers to engage in illegal gun business practices.
Research according to the Illinois Gun Violence Prevention Coalition also shows that 40 percent of guns used in crimes between 2009 and 2014 came from Illinois and 17 percent of guns used in crimes in Chicago were sold by three of the state’s 2,400 gun dealers.
Other state legislation on the group’s radar includes opposing Senate Bill 50/ House Bill 2481, which would legalize the sale of silencers for all guns in Illinois. The group believes that if the bill were to be passed that it would jeopardize public safety.
“They keep pointing to Chicago. Chicago is a warzone. Chicago is just neighborhoods and people that want to make a difference, O’Brien said. “It’s not just what’s happening in Chicago things are happening in other states. Just trying to help the trauma one person at a time and letting the country know what’s happening in Chicago that there are people here who are fighting back.”
Next month the group will be marching in the March for Science in support of funding for the Center for Disease Control (CDC) for research on gun violence. Also, in May the group will have its annual lobby day at the State capital.
The next meeting for Moms Demand Action will be held Saturday, April 8 from 3 p.m. to 4:30 at St. Paul & the Redeemer.