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How do we know that America needs gun reform?

A) Every day, 100 Americans die by a gun.

B) Other developed countries have a fraction of our rate of gun violence.

C) On Valentine’s Day this year, we remembered the 17 victims of the Parkland shooting killed one year earlier and the following day we were sickened by the shooting in Aurora, IL that killed five people and injured five police officers.

Answer: all of the above.

We don’t have to live like this. We don’t have to die like this.

Moms Demand Action is a nonpartisan group with chapters in all 50 states, created after the Sandy Hook shooting of 20 first-graders and six adults in 2012. Some of us are moms, some are not. Some of us are gun owners, some are not. We are all dedicated to saving lives from gun violence and we do this in two ways: 1) educating our community about responsible storage of guns in the home with our BeSmart program and 2) advocating for laws that protect people.

This year, our local Flagstaff group is lobbying on the state and federal level to keep guns out of dangerous hands.

On Feb. 12, members of our group joined over 100 volunteers from across the state at the capitol for Moms Demand Action Advocacy Day. We were there to meet with lawmakers and ask for their support for Senate Bill 1219.

Senate Bill 1219 is a bipartisan bill that will make it harder for convicted domestic abusers to access guns. Domestic violence is a big problem in our state. Arizona makes it too easy for domestic abusers to access firearms and it shows: our rate of domestic violence gun homicide is 66 percent higher than the national average.

Also there is a disturbing connection between domestic violence and mass shooters. Domestic abusers account for only around 10 percent of all gun violence, but they account for 54 percent of mass shootings between 2009-2016, according to Everytown for Gun Safety.

Senate Bill 1219 will close loopholes and protect families by keeping guns out of the hands of domestic abusers. Senator Eddie Farnsworth refused to give Senate Bill 1219 a hearing in committee so we are reminding him of the lives at stake by calling him at (602) 926-5735 and emailing him (at efarnsworth@azleg.gov) and tweeting him (@farnswortheddie).

None of our LD6 lawmakers, Senator Sylvia Allen, Rep. Walt Blackman or Rep. Bob Thorpe, met with us that day but Rep. Thorpe recognized us from the floor of the House. They need to know we are committed to saving lives in Arizona and we will not give up.

On the federal level, we are supporting Senate Bill 42, the background check bill that will update the laws around gun purchases for the Internet age and the Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2019, which closes the loophole that allowed the Charleston killer to buy a gun and murder nine people at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in 2015.

Rep. Tom O’Halleran voted for both bills strengthening background checks at the end of February, so we thank him for his commitment to public safety. We urge our senators to do the same and support background checks, an idea that is favored by most Americans.

The only thing more horrific than a mass shooting is the idea that such events will become commonplace.

We believe the majority of Americans who support common sense gun reform will win. We know the work we do with Moms Demand Action will be a big reason why.

Join us. Our next meeting is Thursday, March 7 at 6 p.m. at the East Flagstaff Library Community Room. If you can’t make it, text JOIN to 64433 to stay informed about Moms Demand Action.

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Marisa Scionti is Flagstaff chapter lead for Moms Demand Action.

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