In July we witnessed several horrible incidents of gun violence in the United States. These tragedies draw our attention to the systemic problems of racism and poverty as factors that play a role in determining who experiences the brunt of this violence. Women on the front lines are taking action to heal communities impacted by this violence and prevent future gun deaths. Here are just 5 of the many incredible initiatives women in the United States are leading to reduce gun violence.
Mothers Against Senseless Killings was started by a group of African American mothers in Chicago who wanted to create a community free of gun violence claiming young lives in their community. Taking matters into their own hands, the group started a program called Moms on Patrol. This project emphasizes the power of community members, and mothers in particular, as agents of social change. MASK also started theAbel Project to plant trees in memory of community members who have been killed by gun violence. These events help the communities grieve and encourage a sense of unity and responsibility for each other.
In response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootingin 2012, Stay-at-home mom Shannon Watts founded Moms Demand Action. Since then, Moms Demand Action has become a a nation-wide grassroots organization that advocates for change at the local, state and national level to end the epidemic of gun violence in the United States. Their campaigns include calling for the prohibition of firearms in public spaces such as grocery stores and cafes; postcard campaigns to elected officials on holidays such as Valentine’s and Mother’s Day; and the Mother’s Dream Quilt Project, which creates quilts symbolizing the human toll of gun violence.
INCITE! is a national activist organization built by feminist women, gender non-conforming and trans people of colour to address violence against their community members. The group organizes direct action, critical dialogue and grassroots activities. Their projects include producing a radio show, organizing rallies on street harassment, training women of colour on self-defence and building and running a clinic, among other things. INCITE! Has also developed a toolkit to address gun violence as it manifests within their community—particularly against women and trans people of colour.
In response to the shooting and death of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton, a group of her friends began wearing orange to remember her life. They chose orange because they said it’s what hunters wear to protect themselves and others from being shot. The Wear Orange Movement sparked by this group of girls in her memory grew and is now nation-wide. National Gun Violence Awareness Day is on June 2nd, and people across the country wear orange, share their stories and protest to demand change.
Betty Friedan, author of The Feminine Mystique and Los Angeles Police Commissioner Ann Reiss Lane co-coordinated a conference in 1993 that sought to articulate gun violence as a woman’s issues and a public health concern. Out of this conference, Women Against Gun Violence was born. Their projects include a speaker’s bureau of adults and youth who have lost a loved one to gun violence or have survived gun violence themselves, gun violence prevention workshops and gun lock distribution, and developing educational materials for parents and children in elementary schools.
Those who pay the highest price for America’s gun violence may be the ones to end it, National Observer, 9 July 2016.
Changing the conversation: how to break the cycle of gun reform failure, The Guardian, 24, June 2016.
Women and Guns, Marie Claire and the Harvard Injury Control Research Centre, 14 February 2016.
Take Action, 30 gun control actions you can take now.