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Three Million Army of Moms and A Billionaire join to make Gun Laws Tough in USA

"Moms Demand Action" group's members regularly turn out for rallies at statehouses around the country to push for new, Everytown-backed gun-safety legislation

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Image Source: Ruby Wallau/NPR
  • 3 million-strong citizen army of moms are bringing the fight to the National Rifle Association (NRA)
  • “Everytown For Gun Safety” and “Moms Demand Action” together have some 3.5 million supporters
  • Everytown has helped push through legislation to block domestic abusers from owning a gun

Devastated by the recent shootings, a new gun control group has emerged. With billionaires on board and an army of 3 million-strong citizen army of moms, they are bringing the fight to the National Rifle Association (NRA)

Much of the ground-swell behind this crusade comes from just regular people pulled into it for their own reasons. After the mass-murder at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Conn, Shannon Watts could not control her anger as the victims were grade-school children.

Six and seven-year-olds shot dead in their first-grade classrooms. Determined to do something about it, she went online and started searching for a group to join or to donate money to. Unable to find anything, she decided to put up a Facebook page: “One Million Moms For Gun Control. “Starting with just 75 friends on her regular Facebook page, the likes went on from the hundreds to the thousands to the tens of thousands. “Moms Demand Action” became the new name, when it crossed a million likes.

As the group grew, Watts caught the notice of Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire former Mayor of New York who was ready to launch “Everytown For Gun Safety” with a pledge of $50 million. What it lacked were foot soldiers. And today the two groups have merged and together have some 3.5 million supporters, said the NPR report.

The National Rifle Association which had been a gun-lobbying superpower for generations has finally met its match.

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According to the NPR report, the “Moms Demand Action” group’s members regularly turn out for rallies at statehouses around the country to push for new, Everytown-backed gun-safety legislation. After the latest shooting at Orlando, the fight is getting more intense.

Tina Meins, the daughter of a shooting victim in the San Bernardino, California, shooting last December and other survivors of gun violence joined Democratic senators yesterday on Capital Hill, to push for tougher gun control laws.

The 40 Democratic senators who participated in the filibuster ended up winning a promise that legislation would come up for a vote, following a week of partisan congressional battles over ways to prevent future attacks like Orlando.

She speaks to VOA,“ People don’t understand that the ease of accessibility is really going to contribute to potential attacks. People don’t understand the risk, especially in cases like Orlando and San Bernardino. I don’t think people understand the risk of homegrown terrorist attacks.”

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Participants with One Million Moms for Gun Control, Image Source:NPR

Everytown for Gun Safety trained Tina Meins and more than 800 other gun violence survivors to meet with politicians, speak in public and write op-eds as part of a growing nationwide movement. This new gun control group has been instrumental in several campaigns and talks on gun legislation.

On Wednesday, June 15, the state chapter leader for the group, Jennifer Herrera spoke with local politicians at a vigil in front of City Hall in Alexandria.
“My sorrow over the tragedy in Orlando runs deep,” she says, “but make no mistake, we are making strides every single day.”

Everytown has started producing results. It has helped push through legislation to block domestic abusers from owning a gun. In some contests the group has outspent the NRA and won.

In the past week, her group organized more than 50 vigils, met with scores of lawmakers, made 52,000 volunteer phone calls to members of Congress, and sent in more than 100,000 petition signatures urging congressional action. She believes that a big change is underway.

-prepared by Ajay Krishna, an intern at NewsGram. Twitter: @ajkrish14

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  • AJ Krish

    Finally,the gun-lobbying superpowers have met their match.I hope that Everytown accomplishes its goal and makes the place safe for everyone.

Next Story

The American Tradition of Marrying Cousins

Alexander Graham Bell, best known for inventing the telephone, also waded into the debate. He suggested introducing legislation to ban consanguineous marriages in families with deaf-mute members so that the condition would not be inherited by children of such marriages.

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The legality of cousin marriage in the United States varies from state to state. The practice is illegal in 25 states. A first cousin is the child of either parent's brother or sister. Pixabay

What do famous Americans such as author Edgar Allan Poe, Wild West outlaw Jesse James and theoretical physicist Albert Einstein have in common?

They all reportedly married their first cousins.

The legality of cousin marriage in the United States varies from state to state. The practice is illegal in 25 states. A first cousin is the child of either parent’s brother or sister.

In some societies around the world, marrying a first cousin is often preferable, not only to keep property or money within the family, but in some cases to keep a “good catch” from going off with a stranger.

But the practice is generally viewed as taboo in the United States.

Albert Einstein and his wife Elsa, his first cousin, arrive in the port of San Diego, California, December 30, 1930.
Albert Einstein and his wife Elsa, his first cousin, arrive in the port of San Diego, California, December 30, 1930. VOA

Opposition to first-cousin marriage in the U.S. dates back to the Puritans, among the earliest European settlers in America, who opposed such unions as far back as the 17th century, according to the book “Consanguinity in Context” by medical geneticist Alan Bittles.

Marriages are considered “consanguineous” when couples are either second cousins or more closely related.

The first actual laws against first-cousin marriage appeared during the Civil War era, with Kansas banning the practice in 1858, followed by Nevada, North Dakota, South Dakota, Washington, New Hampshire, Ohio and Wyoming in the 1860s.

While first-cousin marriages were once favored by the upper classes in the U.S., such alliances declined sharply in the mid-to-late 19th century, possibly because advances in transportation and communication offered perspective brides and grooms greater access to a wider pool of marital prospects.

The gravesite of infamous Wild West outlaw Jesse James and his wife, Zerelda, the first cousin he married after a 9-year courtship, at a cemetery in Kearney, Missouri.
The gravesite of infamous Wild West outlaw Jesse James and his wife, Zerelda, the first cousin he married after a 9-year courtship, at a cemetery in Kearney, Missouri. VOA

Also, as families grew smaller, so did the number of marriageable cousins. And women became more independent during that period, so their marital options increased.

One of the earliest people to influence American public opinion on the issue was the Rev. Charles Brooks of Massachusetts. Brooks delivered a paper at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in 1855 that asserted first-cousin marriage led to birth defects among the children of such unions.

Alexander Graham Bell, best known for inventing the telephone, also waded into the debate. He suggested introducing legislation to ban consanguineous marriages in families with deaf-mute members so that the condition would not be inherited by children of such marriages.

A seven-year Columbia University study published in 2018 found that children whose parents are first cousins have a 4% to 7% probability of birth defects, compared with 3% to 4% when the parents are distant relatives who marry.

From 1650 to 1850, the average person was fourth cousins with their spouse, according to the study. By 1950, the average person was married to their seventh cousin. The researchers believe that today, many couples are 10th to 12th cousins.

First Cousin Marriage Laws in the United States
First Cousin Marriage Laws in the United States. VOA

The data on consanguineous marriage in the U.S. is “scant and incomplete,” according to Bittles. CousinCouples.com, a website for people who are romantically involved with their cousin, estimates that about one out of every 1,000 U.S. marriages is between first cousins.

However, Bittles finds that number to be unrealistically low.

“The recent large-scale migration to the USA of couples from countries where consanguineous marriage is traditional may not reveal their premarital relationship,” he told VOA via email. “In terms of numbers, this particularly applies to immigrants from Arab countries … where 20-plus percent of marriages are consanguineous, and South Asian countries such as Pakistan and Afghanistan where more than 50% of marriages may be consanguineous.”

Some states allow first-cousin marriages only if the couple can’t have children because they are too old or one of the parties is found to be infertile.

Founding father John Adams, second president of the United States, married to his third cousin, Abigail, and they had six children.
Founding father John Adams, second president of the United States, married to his third cousin, Abigail, and they had six children. VOA

When you look past first cousins, there are a number of prominent Americans who married more distant cousins. Presidents Thomas Jefferson and John Adams both said “I do” to their third cousins. President Franklin Roosevelt was married to his fifth cousin, once removed. And the first wife of Rudy Giuliani, former mayor of New York and President Donald Trump’s lawyer, was his second cousin once removed.

Worldwide, only a handful of countries prohibit first cousin marriages.

Also Read: Deaths Rising in U.S. Due To Heart Failure, Especially in Younger Adults

“Besides the USA, they comprise the People’s Republic of China and Taiwan, the Republic of Korea and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and the Philippines,” Bittles says. “Even in the People’s Republic of China, the ban on first-cousin marriages is not enforced in officially recognized ethnic minorities where consanguineous marriage has been traditional.”

Bittles expects the number of cousin marriages in the U.S. to diminish over time as family sizes decline and there are fewer cousins available to marry, and as the children of migrants internalize negative mainstream U.S. views on marrying your cousin. (VOA)