New gun safety legislation is a start, but Congress can do better.

  • Kyra Watts, a native of Atlanta, is a graduate of Florida A&M University, and a writer and editor for the Tennessean’s opinion and engagement team in Nashville.
  • Learn more about Moms Demand Action and why this group was created following school shootings.
  • Compare a list of what gun safety advocates wanted and what they got in the new law.

The day 21 elementary school children and teachers were massacred in Uvalde, Texas, Leeann Hewlett felt a surge of emotions.

The mother of a Metro Nashville Public School student and Moms Demand Action volunteer said, “I remember crying in the line because I could put myself in their shoes.”

Moms demand action is a grassroots movement of Americans fighting for public safety measures that can protect people from gun violence. The organization was founded by Shannon Watts, a mother of five, after the Sandy Hook tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, which left 26 people dead, including 20 children between the ages of six and seven.

Hewlett joined the movement years later after the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 people dead, including 14 students.

“Being part of Moms Demand Action really educated me on the true nature of our gun violence epidemic,” Hewlett said.

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The movement began as an online conversation via a Facebook group, created the day after the shooting, and evolved into a movement of moms, dads, students, concerned citizens and survivors working together to end the this uniquely American crisis — with chapters in all 50 states, a total of seven in Tennessee.

Bipartisan gun safety legislation

The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act is a common-sense, bipartisan proposal to protect America’s children, keep our schools safe, and reduce the threat of gun violence across the country.

Fifteen Republicans have crossed party lines to side with Democrats in favor of the bipartisan Safer Communities Act – ending nearly three decades of deadlock in Congress over how to address the problem of gun violence in this country.

“This is the first gun safety law Congress has passed in 26 years,” Hewlett said. “So I’m glad we’re making progress. I’m glad that after 10 years of fighting Moms Demand Action at all levels of government in all 50 states, we’ve finally moved the needle. However, we still have work to do.”

Lawmakers still have work to do

The 80-page bill failed to enact some of the toughest gun control measures Democrats have long sought.

Kyra Watts

Here’s what gun advocates wanted:

  • Raise the age from 18 to 21 for the purchase of semi-automatic weapons
  • Federal Red Flag Laws
  • Universal background checks
  • Ban on the sale of broadsheet magazines
  • Safer storage practices for firearms
  • Close the hump stock loophole

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Here’s what the new gun laws will do:

  • Improve background checks for buyers under 21
  • Financial Incentives for States to Pass Red Flag Laws
  • Disarm domestic abusers and close the boyfriend loop
  • Clarify who should run a background check
  • Fight against arms trafficking
  • Fund a community response to violence
  • Investing in mental health services
  • Provide funding for school safety

This new legislation is certainly a start toward better gun control practices, but I believe lawmakers can do better. There have been more than 300 mass shootings in the United States so far this year, according to Gun Violence Archives.

How many more people – including children – need to die for people to understand that we are not advocating taking your guns away or revoking your Second Amendment rights? The goal is to prevent unnecessary gun violence and to ensure that gun owners are responsible for their guns.

“We support gun ownership. We just want it to be done safely, in the safest way possible,” Hewlett said.

If you want to get involved with Moms demand actiontext JOIN to 64433.

Kyra Watts, a native of Atlanta, is a graduate of Florida A&M University, and a writer and editor for the Tennessean’s opinion and engagement team in Nashville. She can be reached @ Kyrawatts98 on Twitter.

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