Two Newtown moms who were deeply affected by the 12/14 tragedy have transitioned from quietly hosting recent gatherings of several dozen common-sense gun law supporters to joining more than 1,000 like-minded families during a very high profile march across the Brooklyn Bridge earlier this month.
It has been a whirlwind of activity for Kate Mayer and Laura Muckell since they each hosted a pre-Mother’s Day house party supported by the national advocacy group Moms Demand Action. The pair most recently found themselves traversing the decks of one of the world’s most famous spans June 14 — having helped fill two buses with nearly 100 Newtowners who joined them at the march.
According to the Associated Press, the event was organized by several groups, including Moms Demand Action, Everytown For Gun Safety, and Mayors Against Illegal Guns, which are all funded by former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg. The billionaire, who was not in attendance, has become one of the nation’s most visible gun control advocates and has pumped millions of his own money into the cause.
The rally began in downtown Brooklyn, where many chanted “Not one more,” the cry uttered by Richard Martinez, whose son Christopher was shot to death in Santa Barbara, Calif., last month.
Shannon Watts, who organized the group Moms Demand Action; Erica Lafferty, whose mother, Dawn Hochsprung, was killed at Sandy Hook; and actress Amanda Peet urged the crowd to bombard their elected officials with requests for stricter firearms restrictions. The cheers from the crowd, which ended the march with a rally outside City Hall, were occasionally interrupted by shouts about the right to bear arms from a lone counterprotester, the AP reported.
Ahead of their trip to New York the day before Father’s Day, the two spoke with The Newtown Bee looking back on the days before Mother’s Day, and the momentary uncertainty countering deeply personal convictions that have grown strong since the Sandy Hook rampage.
“In a moment of weakness … or maybe strength … I volunteered for a Moms Demand Action House Party, or meeting really, to rally friends and see what could be done at the grass roots level to help reduce gun violence,” Ms Mayer wrote in her personal blog. “Simple steps. Big job, but teeny, tiny baby steps.”
On the day of her event, she wrote that her first guest arrived wondering if she had the right night, but within an hour cars filled with supporters were lining the neighborhood and dozens of attendees were milling around her living room.
“There were over 60 people at my house — primarily moms and grandmas — and I estimate over two-thirds were friends I hadn’t met yet. All committed to doing. All pledging their voice to the cause. All ready to talk, share, listen, and learn. Quiet maybe, but silent no more,” she observed.
“In my living room, the silent majority became invigorated, inspired, and energized. While most are not willing to scream from the rooftops, we did all pledge to use our actions and let our voice be heard loud and clear at the voting booth.”
Ms Muckell told a similar story, although she became more confident about her turnout when she learned that Senator Richard Blumenthal would be attending. For many months she told The Bee she supported her husband, Pete, whose schedule was more conducive to supporting advocacy coalitions against gun violence, and now it was her opportunity to step up.
“Moms Demand Action was looking to hold 100 house parties across the country the week of Mother’s day. So I figured I like throwing parties, this is a cause I could get involved in and he could help me,” Ms Muckell said. “The organization was very flexible about the kind of party and who would be invited, so I reached out to people I work with, parents of the kids my kids play with.”
Prior to her event, Ms Muckell had accompanied her husband to a handful of marches and rallies, but her party was a turning point that inspired her in the following weeks to commit to attending the Brooklyn event.
“Moms Demand Action was looking to promote their mission to people who hadn’t been involved,” she said. “They want people to understand how their elected officials feel about gun control and gun violence.”
One of the things Ms Muckell and Ms Mayer were asked to do was to ask party guests to sign pledge cards committing to learn more about their elected leaders’ positions on those issues. She also became more impressed about how passionate and driven Sen Blumenthal was about the issue.
In the future, Ms Muckell sees herself providing strategic support for her husband to the extent she can given her packed work and family schedule.
“A lot of the people who couldn’t make the party expressed they wanted to learn more or be kept up to date on developments, so that’s a role I feel comfortable supporting,” she added.
Check out a video of the event by Newtown resident Sue Roman.