How a Colorado mother became the National Rifle Association’s worst nightmare
Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action, leads a movement that now has almost six million supporters
The Denver Post
Shannon Watts folded laundry as news of the horrific Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that killed 20 children and six adults flashed across her television screen in 2012, rattling something inside the mother of five that couldn’t be stifled. That newfound, burning activism would soon position the Colorado woman to identify herself as the National Rifle Association’s worst nightmare.
Watts scoured Facebook after the Sandy Hook shooting, looking to join a group similar to Mothers Against Drunk Driving but with a focus on ending gun violence. When she couldn’t find what she was looking for, she made her own. The group became Moms Demand Action, now one of the most well-known gun control organizations in the nation with almost six million supporters. Watts remains at the helm, pushing through death threats and personal call-outs from the NRA to help pass gun-control legislation in statehouses around the country.
“I didn’t know anything about policy or organizing,” Watts said. “I just knew more guns was not the solution. I only had 75 Facebook friends, but it was like lightning in a bottle. People kept finding and joining the group.”
The online conversation evolved into an offline movement.
Watts describes some of the organization’s biggest victories as helping 20 states pass stronger gun laws in 2018 with nine signed into law by republican governors; passing red flag laws like the one in Colorado that temporarily removes firearms from people believed to be at high risk of harming themselves or others; electing dozens of Moms Demand Action volunteers and gun violence survivors to local and federal office; and convincing businesses from Starbucks to Chipotle to Target to ask customers to stop open carrying in stores.
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