Marin Mothers (and others) Remember Victims of Gun Violence

Four years can go by in a flash, especially for us mothers, who remember sending our children off to a first day of high school and then quite suddenly have dropped them off at college.

Or, four years can pass excruciatingly slowly, each holiday, each birthday, each season and each new day a painful reminder of indescribable loss, as is the case for those who lost children and loved ones in the Sandy Hook Elementary School gun massacre that took place four years ago on December 14, 2012.  The parents of children killed at Sandy Hook will never get a chance to think how quickly four years have passed. They will never watch their children head off to a first day of high school or college.

Last Sunday evening a group of 200 plus marchers joined the Marin Chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America (MMDA) for an evening vigil and march to remember the 20 young children and 6 adults killed at Sandy Hook. As dusk fell, the group, made up of a majority of mothers, but including many fathers, children, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends and teachers, gathered in front of Tam High carrying small tea lights to remember those lost and to honor their lives by continuing to strive for improved Gun Safety laws across the country.

“Since Sandy Hook we’ve had 400,000 gun-related deaths and injuries and 200 school shootings,” said Moms Demand Action Chapter Lead Jen Reidy.“400,000 is about half the population of San Francisco.As we come to the end of this election year, clearly we cannot assume common sense politics and policies will prevail.”

President-elect Trump is a strong supporter of the NRA, and the results of the election were big blow to gun sense activists across the country.  The national Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense website states, “The NRA spent 30 million dollars to elect Donald Trump and they will expect to get what they paid for. Make no mistake: Moms will not allow the outcome of one election to deter us. It’s up to us to stand between the president-elect and the NRA’s vision of more guns for more people.”

Before the march began Reidy addressed the crowd, pointing to the success of the protestors at Standing Rock, their presence eventually leading to a halt of the pipeline construction. “We are living in an era when activism is required,” she said to the crowd.  She also noted the recent success of the local Moms Demand Action chapter, when Marin volunteers patched through 40,000 Nevada residents to their elected officials and successfully passed legislation for expanded background checks by just 10,000 votes in that state.

As respectful and controlled as the crowd appeared Sunday evening, there was a heightened sense of intention and determination in the air. The marchers headed down Shoreline Ave, tea lights aglow, as passing drivers honked, waved, shouted support and flashed their lights.  A group of wheelchair-bound residents lined the street in front of The Redwoods, singing and holding “End Gun Violence” and “Not One More” signs high as the marchers passed.  Several of the mothers I spoke to at the vigil said they had recently become involved in MMDA because they just cannot imagine the loss of a child to gun violence and have decided they will show up and make their voice and presence known until change is made.

“It is a Sunday evening.  It would of course have been easiest to stay home.  But then you think about the Sandy Hook children, and the children whose lives will be saved if we improve our gun laws, and you have to do anything and everything you can,” said Leslie Weber of Novato.

And isn’t that exactly what mothers are so good at? Doing anything and everything they can.

More information about Marin Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense can be found on the Facebook page

Kirsten Jones Neff

Kirsten Jones Neff is a journalist who writes about all things North Bay, with special attention to the environment and the region’s farmers, winemakers and food artisans. She also works and teaches in school gardens. Kirsten’s poetry collection, When The House Is Quiet, was nominated for the Northern California Book Award, and three of her poems received a Pushcart nomination. She lives in Novato with her husband and three children and tries to spend as much time as possible on our local mountains, beaches and waterways. For more on her work visit KirstenJonesNeff.Com.