As the one-year anniversary of the Newtown massacre approaches, activists joined forces in a new campaign urging Americans to get loud on gun control after a year of legislative setbacks.
Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America teamed up with Mayors Against Illegal Guns in the TV ad, “No More Silence,” warning of more shooting tragedies to come without stricter regulations in place.
The ad shows an elementary school in Anywhere USA taking a moment of silence at 9:35am, approximately the same time Adam Lanza opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012, killing 20 children and six staff members. We hear the sound of a clock ticking in the background; heads are bowed. A person carrying a suspicious duffle bag walks into the school, presumed to be harboring a weapon and ill-intent. The message: your kids could be next.
“On December 14, we’ll have a moment of silence for Newtown, but with 26 more school shootings since that day, ask yourself, is silence what America needs right now?” the voice-over says.
“We’re hoping [the ad] shocks people into action, that’s the goal of this,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. She started the group one day after Newtown and says the group now has 127,000 members.
Expanded background checks for would-be gun owners remain Moms Demand Action's top priority. Post-Newtown, polls showed the vast majority of the country agreed, too. But the Senate rejected the bill in April. After Congress' inaction, the momentum for reform has arguably slowed down.
“Despite what some pundits may say, 2013 was a watershed year for the gun reform movement because it was the year American mothers finally stood up and said, ‘enough,” said an un-fazed Watts. “Sandy Hook was like a 9/11 for mothers.”
During a conference calls with reporters Thursday, Watts cited wins at the state level, successfully pushing for a new director of the ATF, pushing Starbucks to try to keep its stores gun-free, and getting pro-gun reform candidates like Sens. Markey and Booker and Rep. Tierney elected. “And Sen. Reid promised our moms over a glass of lemonade last August that there would be another vote on background checks before the mid-term elections,” she added.
Erika Soto Lamb, the Communications Director for Mayors Against Illegal Guns, suggested states could pave the way for gun reform just as they did in the marriage equality debate.
“A number of these senators have seen their approval ratings go up or down based on whether they voted for or against background checks–proving that this is an issue voters care about,” Soto Lamb said Thursday. “States across the country have taken matters into their own hands and passed sensible new gun laws including Colorado, Delaware, New York, Maryland and Connecticut.”
The groups’ joint venture will culminate on Saturday, December 14, with more than 50 events in 35 states. Organizers said a communal ringing of bells at each gathering will honor victims and remind people they need to speak up to help prevent more gun violence.