DENVER ― On Monday morning, around 400 mothers organized by the Colorado chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America gathered under the state capitol rotunda to support common-sense gun control policy.
“We’re a group of moms whose primary concern is our children,” said Jen Clenahan, who has an eight-year-old daughter she calls the love of her life. That’s who she had in mind on Monday when she walked into the capitol ― like most of the members who have children, she imagined.
“It matters to show up,” she said. “[Our legislators] need to see us.”
Not all Colorado lawmakers are listening, however. The state Senate passed a bill on a party-line vote Monday morning that would scrap the state’s licensing process for concealed carry permits, instead allowing anyone “who legally possesses a handgun” to carry a concealed firearm. Another bill would repeal limits placed on high-capacity magazines after the 2012 theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado.
Neither of the bills is likely to make it past the Democrat-controlled state House, but members of Moms Demand Action aren’t taking any chances. After briefly gathering for a photo, they fanned out through the marble hallways to find their representatives and express their opposition to the bills in person.
Moms Demand Action is hoping to maintain the momentum for gun control that started last month after the high school shooting in Parkland, Florida. Clenahan said there’s a palpable energy after the shooting that’s different from the aftermath of other mass shootings, and she attributes it to the affected teenagers: “The kids are taking the lead,” Clenahan said. “They’re not just grieving; they’re angry.”
Melody Connett, another member of Moms Demand Action, said she couldn’t understand why it’s taking so long for politicians to pass sensible gun control laws. She would know ― her daughter survived the school shooting at Columbine High School in 1999.
The America Connett knows learns from its mistakes, she said, listing off a number of examples: We take our shoes off at the airport in response to the terrorist who tried to take down an airplane with a shoe bomb; in the 1980s, we changed consumer packaging laws after someone laced Tylenol with cyanide; our cars have seat belts and airbags now thanks to increasing federal standards.
“We’re not going to 100 percent stop gun violence,” she conceded. “But we can make it better.”
Another mom, Diana Thompson, runs a program for social and emotional learning programs in the state. She gained new appreciation for the pressures educators are under two weeks ago, when she conducted a training for 60 teachers.
“There’s so much stress in our classrooms already,” said Thompson. “Adding guns is just a recipe for disaster.”
Thompson sadly noted that simply preparing children for the possibility that someone could storm into their school with a gun ― and how to react ― is harmful all by itself.
“The trauma we’re putting kids through under the guise of keeping them safe is making it worse,” she said. “Our children are literally on the front lines.”