Other Group

Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense

Website:

momsdemandaction.org

Formation:

2012

Type:

Gun Control Advocacy/Activism

Founder:

Shannon Watts

Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America (Moms Demand Action) is a left-of-center activist group that lobbies for the implementation of strict gun control measures. Formerly known as One Million Moms for Gun Control, the group was founded by former Monsanto director of public affairs Shannon Watts in the wake of the Sandy Hook, Connecticut school shooting in late 2012. Moms Demand Action has since joined Everytown for Gun Safety, a gun control lobbying organization founded by former New York City Mayor and Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg. [1] Moms Demand Action is also affiliated with Mayors Against Illegal Guns, another left-of-center Bloomberg-founded gun control organization. Non-tax deductible donations made to Moms Demand Action through its website are channeled through the left-of-center pass-through entity ActBlue. [2]

Moms Demand Action operates through legislative advocacy and public pressure campaigns. Moms Demand Action has supported regulations to mandate background checks for all firearms sales, including those made between private individuals, and strip the right to own firearms from anyone convicted of even a misdemeanor hate crime, which in some states can include such offenses as referring to a transgender person without using their preferred pronouns. [3] [4] Moms Demand Action has also led campaigns to pressure major companies to change corporate policies that previously allowed customers to carry firearms in their stores. [5]

Background

Moms Demand Action has supported the implementation of strict gun control measures both through legislative action campaigns and through grassroots organizing. Moms Demand Action’s first campaign came just weeks after the Sandy Hook, Connecticut school shooting when the organization called for the cancellation of a gun show in Stamford, Connecticut on the grounds that it would be “insensitive.” When the show’s hosts did not give into the group’s demands, Moms Demand Action organized a protest outside the event. [6]

Moms Demand Action has also supported other left-of-center movements, including Black Lives Matter. Following weeks of violent riots and looting across the country in the summer of 2020 that coincided with Black Lives Matter protests, Moms Demand Action suggested that the subsequent increase in firearms sales after the riots was driven by racism. [7]

Legislative Advocacy Campaigns

Moms Demand Action is a proponent of strict background check requirements for firearm purchases, especially for private purchases made between individuals and sales made at gun shows. [8] The organization supported the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019, which sought to require all private sales to involve background checks conducted by a licensed gun dealer. This bill passed the United States House of Representatives on February 27, 2019 but did not make it through the Senate in 2019. [9]

Even in cases in which background checks are already required, Moms Demand Action has demanded further regulations. Current legislation allows for some gun sales to proceed if a background check has been initiated but has not been completed within three business days. In May of 2020 when the Department of Justice requested more money to deal with an influx of background check requests resulting from an increase in firearms sales, Moms Demand Action claimed that the increase was a sign that guns were “falling into the wrong hands,” despite the legality of the gun purchases. [10]

Moms Demand Action also supported the Disarm Hate Act, first introduced in 2017 and introduced again in 2019. The act sought to prevent individuals convicted of misdemeanor hate crimes from possessing firearms. [11] The legislation, in California for example, would apply to minor “hate crimes,” such as deliberately and repeatedly using a transgender person’s non-preferred pronouns. [12] On June 9, 2017, Moms Demand Action joined a coalition of gun control and LGBT organizations to support the legislation, launching “Disarm Hate Week” in support of the measure. The coalition included a number of prominent left-of-center and far-left organizations, including the National Organization for Women, the Latino Victory Project, the Women’s March, the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, and the Center for American Progress. [13]

Moms Demand Action also encourages its members to seek local, state, and federal public office to implement left-of-center gun control measures. In 2020, 35 Moms Demand Action members were elected to public office, including U.S. Representatives Lucy McBath (D-GA) and Marie Newman (D-IL). [14]

Corporate Pressure Campaigns

Aside from legislative advocacy campaigns, Moms Demand Action has led a series of corporate pressure campaigns to force corporations to change firearm policies. In August of 2013, Moms Demand Action began to pressure Starbucks to ban the open carrying of firearms in its stores. Starbucks’s initial policy included adhering to local open carry laws, and Starbucks resisted the demands. [15]

In response, Moms Demand Action began organizing boycotts called “Skip Starbucks Saturdays,” and within three months, Starbucks CEO Howard Schulz issued an open letter asking customers not to bring guns into Starbucks stores. Although Watts and other media outlets characterized this move as a ban on guns inside Starbucks, Schulz acknowledged in an interview with CNN that the policy was nothing more than a request to customers and was not legally binding or enforceable by employees. [16]

Using social media campaigns, protests, and petitions, Moms Demand Action organized similar campaigns against Walmart, Target, Chipotle, and Jack-in-the Box, all of which eventually changed their corporate policies. [17]

Leadership

Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action, is the former vice president of communications at WellPoint, the largest health insurance corporation in the nation. She was also formerly director of global and public affairs at Monsanto Corporation, an industrial agriculture conglomerate. Watts also previously sat on the board of Emerge America, an organization that trains female Democratic candidates for local, state, and federal office. Moms Demand Action often presents Watts as a non-political “stay-at-home” mom moved to action by gun violence, a talking point Watts herself has echoed in her public media appearances. Nonetheless, Watts has an extensive corporate media relations background and has donated around $10,000 to political candidates and political action committees. Moms Demand Action’s misrepresentation of Watts went so far that NPR printed a correction to a story it did on Watts after learning about her actual political background. [18]

Watts has presented her public relations background as allowing her to craft a compelling “message” to convince people to support strict gun control measures. In May of 2017, critics called Watts’s leadership style into question after a flurry of resignations from Moms Demand Action and Everytown for Gun Safety. On May 11, 2017, the Daily Caller cited sources close to Watts as claiming that “staff who worked for Shannon quit or are fired faster than the organization can replace them.” Watts was also referred to as “a nightmare” and “a self-serving tyrant” by former staff. An Everytown spokesperson dismissed these claims as “fake news.” [19]

References

  1. Everytown. “New Gun Violence Prevention Group Everytown for Gun Safety Unites Mayors Moms and Millions of Americans…” Everytown.org Website. April 16, 2014. Accessed December 11, 2020. https://everytown.org/press/new-gun-violence-prevention-group-everytown-for-gun-safety-unites-mayors-moms-and-millions-of-americans-on-new-paths-to-victory-state-capitols-corporate-responsibility-voter-activation/ ^
  2. ActBlue. “Moms Demand Action.” Actblue.com Website. Undated. Accessed December 11, 2020. https://secure.actblue.com/donate/moms-demand-action/?source=mdmo_mdhomepage&refcode=mdmo_mdhomepage&utm_source=mdmo_mdhomepage&utm_medium=o&utm_campaign=mdhomepage&_ga=2.70303828.596249234.1607523277-1295745170.1607349262 ^
  3. Congress.gov. “Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2018.” Congress.gov Website. Undated. Accessed December 11, 2020.   https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/8 ^
  4. Moms Demand Action. “Announcing Disarm Hate Week…” Moms Demand Action Website. June 9, 2017. Accessed December 11, 2020.  https://momsdemandaction.org/announcing-disarmhate-week-june-12-18-everytown-moms-demand-action-and-a-broad-based-coalition-of-partners-to-demand-political-leaders-take-action-to-disarm-hate-during-days-marki/ ^
  5. Moms Demand Action. “Everytown for Gun Safety, Moms Demand Action Applaud Walmart Decision…” Moms Demand Action Website. September 3, 2019. Accessed December 11, 2020. https://momsdemandaction.org/everytown-for-gun-safety-moms-demand-action-applaud-walmart-decision-to-prohibit-open-carry-and-limit-ammunition-sales-in-wake-of-el-paso-mass-shooting/ ^
  6. Moms Demand Action. “Controversial Stamford CT Gun Show Denounced by One Million Moms for Gun Control.” Moms Demand Action Website. January 5, 2013. Accessed December 11, 2020. https://momsdemandaction.org/one-million-moms-for-gun-control-strongly-opposes-gun-show-near-newtown-massacre-site/ ^
  7. Moms Demand Action. “New Studies Show Impact of Racism on Recent Surge of Gun Purchases.” Moms Demand Action Website. July 22, 2020. Accessed December 11, 2020. https://momsdemandaction.org/new-studies-show-impact-of-racism-on-recent-surge-of-gun-purchases/ ^
  8. Findlaw. “Private Gun Laws by State.” Findlaw.com Website. March 22, 2018. Accessed December 11, 2020. https://consumer.findlaw.com/consumer-transactions/private-gun-sale-laws-by-state.html#:~:text=Federally%20licensed%20firearms%20dealers%20are,regulations%20on%20private%20gun%20sales. ^
  9. Congress.gov. “Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2018.” Congress.gov Website. Undated. Accessed December 11, 2020.   https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/8 ^
  10. Moms Demand Action. “Amid Surging Gun Sales, DOJ Asks Congress for More Resources to Enforce Background Checks.” Moms Demand Action Website. May 13, 2020. Accessed December 11, 2020. https://momsdemandaction.org/breaking-amid-surging-gun-sales-doj-asks-congress-for-more-resources-to-enforce-background-checks/ ^
  11. Congress.gov. “Disarm Hate Act.” Congress.gov Website. Undated. Accessed December 11, 2020.    https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/2708 ^
  12. Nichols, Chris. “Claims Mislead About California Forcing Jail Time for Using Wrong Transgender Pronouns.” Politifact. September 26, 2017. Accessed December 11, 2020.  https://www.politifact.com/article/2017/sep/26/claims-mislead-about-california-bill-forcing-jail-/  ^
  13. Moms Demand Action. “Announcing Disarm Hate Week…” Moms Demand Action Website. June 9, 2017. Accessed December 11, 2020.  https://momsdemandaction.org/announcing-disarmhate-week-june-12-18-everytown-moms-demand-action-and-a-broad-based-coalition-of-partners-to-demand-political-leaders-take-action-to-disarm-hate-during-days-marki/ ^
  14. Everytown. “Big Win for Gun Safety: 35 Moms Demand Action Volunteers Win Elections Across the Country.” Everytown.org Website. November 11, 2020. Accessed December 11, 2020.  https://everytown.org/press/big-win-for-gun-safety-35-moms-demand-action-volunteers-win-elections-across-the-country/ ^
  15. Harlow, Poppy, O’Toole James. “Starbucks to Customers: Please Don’t Bring Your Guns.” CNN. September 13, 2018. Accessed December 11, 2020. https://money.cnn.com/2013/09/18/news/companies/starbucks-guns/ ^
  16. Harlow, Poppy, O’Toole James. “Starbucks to Customers: Please Don’t Bring Your Guns.” CNN. September 13, 2018. Accessed December 11, 2020. https://money.cnn.com/2013/09/18/news/companies/starbucks-guns/ ^
  17. Moms Demand Action. “Everytown for Gun Safety, Moms Demand Action Applaud Walmart Decision…” Moms Demand Action Website. September 3, 2019. Accessed December 11, 2020. https://momsdemandaction.org/everytown-for-gun-safety-moms-demand-action-applaud-walmart-decision-to-prohibit-open-carry-and-limit-ammunition-sales-in-wake-of-el-paso-mass-shooting/ ^
  18. Wemple, Erik. “NPR Issues Large Correction about Stay-at-Home Mom Gun Control Activist.” The Washington Post. June 23, 2016. Accessed December 11, 2020. https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/erik-wemple/wp/2016/06/23/npr-issues-large-correction-about-stay-at-home-momgun-control-activist/ ^
  19. Picket, Kerry. “Major Gun Control Group is Riven by Leadership Dispute.” Daily Caller. May 11, 2017. Accessed December 11, 2020. https://dailycaller.com/2017/05/11/major-gun-control-group-is-riven-by-leadership-dispute/ ^

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