Galvanized by the Sandy Hook shooting tragedy, a group of Western Springs and surrounding-area moms are coming together to advocate for “gun-violence prevention:” travelling to a gun-control rally in downtown Chicago and now successfully landing a meeting with fellow Western Springs resident Congressman Dan Lipinski (D-3rd)
Still in its infancy, the currently unnamed coalition of about 25-30 moms (and the occasional dad) was founded by Western Springs resident Nicole Chen shortly after Sandy Hook in mid-December. Chen said her time an intern for former Colorado congresswoman Patricia Schroeder showed her that elected officials generally do listen to organized constituents.
“We’re just trying to get active here in Western Springs and La Grange about talking about this issue, and we’re thinking about different ideas,” Chen said. ““Every person who comes into this group has a different idea of where they think we should go working on this issue.”
Generally, the group as a whole does support President Barack Obama’s proposed legislation on gun control: in particular, closing gun-show loopholes on background checks and banning high-capacity magazines and assault weapons. But their reform ideas go further as well.
“From my own perspective, it is a lot more complicated than just gun legislation,” said Katherine Willis Pershey, associate minister at First Congregational Church and herself a Western Springs mom, who operates a social media campaign on the subject. “I think we have a culture of violence. There’s a lot of change that needs to happen; a lot of parts that need to be addressed.
“I think that we need to be fairly brave about bringing this up. And I don’t mean starting arguments, but I do mean not being afraid to advocate and sort of speak our hearts on the issue in however way that manifests… The most important thing at this point is for the movement to not lose momentum.”
On Saturday, a dozen members of the group attended a rally in downtown Chicago as part of the Chicago chapter of One Million Moms for Gun Control. Similar rallies were being held nationwide in support of stronger legislation on firearms.
Additionally, the coalition has scored a meeting with Rep. Lipinski at an unspecified time to voice their concerns, a coup for an organization with a creed of fostering change from the ground up.
“We are for sure pushing Lipinski to, if he can’t support all of [President Obama’s legislation], at least support universal background checks and closing the gun-show loophole,” said Chen. “But we’re also looking to other areas of society as well—education about guns and society, and things like that.”
“Sometimes people feel helpless because they feel like the government’s much bigger than we are and we really are helpless, but grassroots efforts start with small groups of people, and I think as those groups get together from a global perspective, they really can make a change,” added Western Springs mom Sami Flanagan.
“I think we saw it at that rally downtown.”
Anyone interested in the group can contact Chen at this e-mail address.
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