Mothers and a billionaire go to Washington to take on the NRA
The Orlando massacre that resulted in 49 deaths and 53 injuries has rekindled the gun debate. One advocate passionate about gun reform is Tina Meins, who was affected by the San Bernardino terrorist attack. Meins is the daughter of victim Damian Meins, who was one of 14 killed last December during the San Bernardino shooting.
Meins and others impacted by gun violence spoke in Washington, D.C., on Thursday to urge lawmakers to support more gun control.
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Meins said she knows what the families of Orlando victims are going through. "It's time to disarm hate."
She continued, "Each person in that club was someone's child, a sibling, a lover, a friend. I wish I could say I'm surprised that we're here again, but sadly I'm not."
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Sen. Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat who filibustered for almost 15 hours to push for more gun control, called for the press conference following the event. Meins spoke about her father and how hearing about the Orlando shootings made her relive the trauma.
"The pain of knowing this was happening again in our country to so many families was just too much to bear," Meins said.
Meins was not alone in this sentiment. She was trained by the group Everytown for Gun Safety on how to publicly speak about these issues and meet with politicians. The group was started by Michael Bloomberg, billionaire and former New York City mayor.
Several years ago, Shannon Watts began a Facebook page "One Million Moms for Gun Control" after hearing about the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The page soon grew to more than one million, and Watts changed the name to "Moms Demand Action."
Today, Everytown and Moms have more than 3.5 million supporters. Despite backlash from the National Rifle Association (NRA), Watts and her "Moms" are not backing down. "It's really just the gun lobby leadership that disagrees" with what the group wants, she said.
Despite the tragedy in Orlando, Watts remains hopeful-- and "Moms" are working to help. Since the shootings, the group has organized over 50 vigils, made over 50,000 volunteer phone calls to Congress, and sent in over 100,000 petition signatures calling for action.
"That's amazing grass-roots power. Our side has never had that before," Watts commented.
"The NRA has been able to generate outrage and emails and phone calls and rallies with the flip of a switch. And we can do that now too."