This Mother's Day, eight American mothers will wake up having lost a child to gun violence the day before. Another eight mothers will go to bed having lost their children to gun violence on Mother's Day.
This American epidemic, which has become a public health crisis, goes unaddressed by vocal minority of elected leaders in Washington who seem unwilling to act, either out of cowardice or self-interest.
After the mass shooting of elementary school children in Newtown, I thought Americans would finally stand up and say, "enough." Twenty children and six adults had been slaughtered in the sanctity of an elementary school by an assault weapon designed for the battlefield. The horror of it was almost too much to believe or comprehend. This has to be the tipping point, I thought. This has to be what moved us as a country to change.
But it wasn't. Twenty dead first-graders weren't enough to advance even the weakest of legislative measures.
We have talked for decades about trying to put an end to senseless gun violence by keeping these weapons of mass destruction out of the hands of people who should not have them, including convicted criminals and the clinically insane. This should be something we can all agree on. Our presidents have talked about it for years too, so much so that their speeches weave together as though they were written by the same person.
The vote that failed in the Senate would have been a small step in the right direction, and simply expanded background checks to cover all gun sales. It was a common sense measure, one that 90 percent of Americans, including a majority of the members of the National Rifle Association, supported.
Yet it failed. It failed because there are still people in our country who think the unlimited right to own guns and ammunition trumps the value of the lives of American children.
That day in December, I wept, as many of us did, for people we didn't know, but who could have easily been any one of our family members. But in April, when 46 Senators voted to block a bill to make our children and families safer, I was outraged.
The mothers of America are, too. And we have renewed fervor to push forward. For decades, we've watched the carnage escalate, from college campuses in Virginia to supermarket parking lots in Tucson to movie theaters in Colorado, and silently mourned the dead too long. The unregulated sales of guns, assault weapons and ammunition are ravaging our families and children. We will no longer be silent; we have to fight back.
As moms, our priorities are clear. Our only "agenda" is to ensure our children grow up free from the fear of gun violence finding them in places they should be safe. We want them to go to school, to play sports, and to enjoy their lives without having to worry that a gunman armed with an AR-15 with 30 rounds in the clip and one in the chamber will come through the door, or worse, shoot his way through, because we have chosen to barricade the entrance rather than remove the threat.
This year for Mother's Day, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America is honoring gun violence victims and their families, and empowering American moms to demand that their rights as mothers "shall not be infringed."
Our campaign includes videos highlighting how gun violence has changed Mother's Day for victims, as well as a Mother's Bill of Rights, do-it-yourself paper flowers representing the eight American children shot and killed every day in America, and local gatherings on behalf of our chapters across the country.
Moms can participate by joining a Mother's Day walk or by telling their elected officials they want their rights as mothers honored.
We must not give up. We must not stop until our communities, our schools, and our country is safe.
Our children are counting on us.