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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
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  • 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

Meet Kelly Oliveira, Brazilian By Birth But ‘American’ By Heart

Embarking on a 'new journey'

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Kelly Oliveira reacts after becoming a U.S. Citizen during a naturalization ceremony in Baltimore, Maryland.
Kelly Oliveira reacts after becoming a U.S. Citizen during a naturalization ceremony in Baltimore, Maryland. VOA

When Brazilian native Kelly Oliveira signed up for the U.S. Army through a program that offered her citizenship for her service, she thought she had it made.

But it took two years for the army to work through the added background checks. During that time she struggled to remain legal.

Oliveira finally made it through the process and was sworn in as a citizen last week.

She took the oath on a day designated to honor the U.S. flag, a group of 28 people from 18 countries became American citizens at the historic house where the flag that inspired the national anthem was made.

“I learned to love this country that I adopted as my own. … I’ve always [thought] of myself as an American by heart,” she said.

But it took 13 years to make it official. On a day designated to honor the U.S. flag, a group of 28 people, including Oliveira, from 18 countries became American citizens at the historic house where the flag that inspired the national anthem was made.

“It’s been a long journey. … Of course there were moments that I was thinking ‘Should I continue waiting?’” she said.

Oliveira’s wait was due to changes in a military program called Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest program, or MAVNI reported on by VOAlast December. It was launched in 2009 to bring immigrants with medical or language skills into the armed services.

Kelly Oliveira examines paperwork before her naturalization ceremony in Baltimore, Maryland.
Kelly Oliveira examines paperwork before her naturalization ceremony in Baltimore, Maryland. VOA

She enlisted in the Army in March 2016 under MAVNI, which promised her citizenship in exchange for service.

Enlisting for status

Oliveira had tried other ways to stay legal. But nothing worked.

“I went to school and I had my OPT, and I got a teaching position job as a preschool teacher,” Oliveira said.

The OPT or Optional Practical Training allows international students with an F-1 visa to work in the U.S. for up to one year in a field related to their studies. She tried to get a work visa through the schools where she was employed at the time.

“Unfortunately the school where I was working at; they could not [sponsor] me,” she said.

That’s when she entered the MAVNI program. But on June 2016, the program was shut down, which affected Oliveira’s enlistment.

The U.S. government retroactively required background checks on anyone who had enlisted in the military through the MAVNI program, including anyone who was currently serving or waiting to be shipped to basic training.

For Oliveira that meant a two-year wait. She went to training drills and struggled to stay legal.

Those who witnessed her journey said it was tough. “I don’t think I’d be able to do it because it’s, I mean, it’s been a, it’s been a long journey. It’s been a struggle and it’s, it’s been like a nightmare,” Lauren Schroeder, a D.C. native who has been friends with Oliveira for many years, told VOA.

“I mean the down was the fact that it took so long. And I guess the up is that she was able to join the military and get a citizenship that way. So finally, it happened,” Schroeder said.

Kelly Oliveira, during her naturalization ceremony in Baltimore, Maryland
Kelly Oliveira, during her naturalization ceremony in Baltimore, Maryland, VOA

Embarking on a ‘new journey’

Margaret Stock, a retired Army lieutenant colonel who created the MAVNI program, told VOA she is not surprised by Oliveira’s successful story.

“That’s what’s supposed to happen. They’re eligible for citizenship and they’re supposed to be able to get it quickly,” Stock said.

But the retired Army lieutenant colonel said, even though there are stories like Oliveira’s, lots of recruits are still falling out of status due to the additional checks.

“So people are timing out and they can’t ship out to basic training until the [U.S. government] completes all these background checks,” she said.

In a previous interview with VOA, Stock said everyone who wants to serve in the military has to go through background checks but the government was already doing a lot more background checking on the MAVNIs.

“They are the most checked group of people that entered the U.S. military,” Stock said adding this is an investigation normally done on someone getting top-secret clearance with the U.S. government.

On Flag Day, Oliveira signed the papers. She checked in with immigration officials. Then the ceremony started.

Also read: Indian-American Diaspora Plays an Important Role in Country’s Development

“Sky’s the limit for me now it’s just the beginning of my new journey. Now I’m going to basic training in a couple of months, and I’m very excited about that,” Oliveira said. (VOA)