What an honor to be invited to participate in this celebration of Shannon Watts. I was one of the speakers sharing the impact of gun violence in schools and spoke about the power of collaborating with school nurses to bring #BeSMART and ERPO training to our school communities. I recommended that school nurses may be the best way for these life saving programs to be introduced to school communities.
The following article is reprinted from Camden County Board of Commissioners:
(Collingswood, NJ) – On Thursday, the Board of Commissioners hosted an event with Moms Demand Action to promote awareness and discuss solutions to America’s gun violence epidemic. Moms Demand Action is a national grassroots movement of Americans fighting for public safety measures that can protect people from gun violence.
“Gun violence and access to firearms is the number one killer of our children in our nation right now. On top of that, more than 30,000 Americans were killed by a firearm last year,” said Commissioner Director Louis Cappelli Jr. “America has struggled with gun violence for decades and it is an issue that we have the power to stop. With awareness, education and partnerships, we can change this country and put an end to the senseless deaths and injuries that occur every day due to guns.”
Now one of the largest grassroots movements in the country, Moms Demand Action has established a volunteer chapter in every U.S. state and Washington, D.C. The group is also part of Everytown for Gun Safety, the largest gun violence prevention organization in the country with nearly 10 million supporters.
The event also honored Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action, for her dedication to ending gun violence in America.
“Shannon is a remarkable person whose determination to protect American citizens and children from gun violence has made tangible changes on the local, state and national level,” Cappelli continued. “Moms Demand Action is blazing the trail for a safer America, and it all began with Shannon.”
As the organization moves into its next decade of advocacy, Watts has announced that 2023 will be her final year as a full-time volunteer and leader.
“When I created the Facebook page that would become Moms Demand Action more than 10 years ago, I bet that ordinary people — particularly moms — could take on the wealthiest and most powerful special interest in American history,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. “I bet that if we harnessed our collective anger at a system that forced our kids to grow up hiding under desks because our lawmakers would not stand up to the NRA, we could change the course of history. And that is exactly what we have done. Today, we are twice as large as the NRA with thousands of volunteers in every state and more than 10 million supporters nationwide. Together, we have changed the political calculus on gun safety, taking it from a third rail issue to one lawmaker at every level of government run and win on.”
The Board of Commissioners have worked tirelessly to reduce gun violence across Camden County, including passing a sweeping concealed carry ban in December. The resolution prohibits anyone from carrying firearms, concealed or otherwise, in sensitive areas including all county buildings, county owned recreational facilities and parks, polling places and more.
In addition, the Camden County Metropolitan Police Department reduced shootings in Camden City by more than 25% last year through a combination of unity policing and community engagement. This reduction in gun violence also coincides with a 70% reduction in homicides over the last 10 years.
Everytown, Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action have made historic changes as well, shifting the political atmosphere on gun safety and control. These accomplishments include pushing the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act through Congress, helping pass hundreds of good gun safety laws, blocking 90% of gun lobby-backed bills in the last eight years and securing unprecedented investments in gun violence prevention programs. Advocacy from these groups has resulted in major changes on all levels of government. In 2022 alone, state lawmakers and governors enacted more than 52 gun safety bills, invested $860 million in gun violence prevention and local violence intervention and prevention programs and rejected dozens of extreme gun lobby-backed bills to weaken gun laws.