We have witnessed the collective power of the National Rifle Association to stop sensible gun laws for most of this millennium. That all changed when a shooter mowed down 17 people at a high school in Parkland, Florida and the grieving survivors changed the national narrative on gun violence.
Now, the mothers who brought those kids into the world have joined the fight.
In what could be a model for the passage of gun reform in the future, the Maryland General Assembly today passed a bill and sent it on to the governor (who is expected to sign it) that will provide protection for victims of domestic violence by forcing convicted domestic abusers to give up their guns, reports WTOP-TV.
IT'S WORKING! The Maryland General Assembly just passed a law that will protect domestic violence survivors by requiring convicted domestic abusers to surrender guns.
Great job to our volunteers and gun safety advocates who pushed for this lifesaving legislation! pic.twitter.com/JOeyYQwC2l
— Moms Demand Action (@MomsDemand) April 10, 2018
Existing law made it illegal for convicted abusers to buy guns, but this new bill closes a loophole that allowed the offenders to hold on to guns that were already in their possession.
It has passed because of relentless pressure from the Maryland chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America along with volunteers from Everytown for Gun Safety, and digital support from the now-famous teens of Parkland.
In January, barely a month prior to the Parkland tragedy, Moms and Everytown took to the streets of Annapolis to protest gun violence and push for sensible gun reform in the state.
One particularly touching testimonial came from former police Officer Angela Wright and her daughter, according to WBAL-TV in Baltimore. Their story brought “tears to the eyes of many, recalling the abuse of her gun-toting husband,” according to reports.
“I would often wake up in the middle of the night or in the morning with the sound of ‘spin, click, spin, click’ as he played Russian roulette with a gun to the back of my neck,” Wright said, noting that she had at one point attempted to remove all of his guns for her and her daughter’s safety. “I realized I mistakenly left one gun behind. He came towards me to kill me. I called 911, my own police department. They arrived – with his shotgun to my forehead – in time to save my life.”
Nearby, a noisy group of NRA counter-protesters stamped their feet in fear this bill would take away their rights under the Second Amendment.
Then, something unusual happened.
As recounted by WBAL-TV, the Moms shouted back at the protesters “We’re pro-gun safety. You should all be ashamed of yourselves!”
The back-and-forth was hostile at first, but WBAL-TV reports “each side listened to the other’s position, and support for taking guns away from domestic abusers gained an ally.”
One NRA activist eventually said of the moms,”We support [them] in this. We are all against domestic abusers. We believe they’re criminals. They shouldn’t have handguns or guns of any kind.”
In the final hours of the legislative session, the Maryland Assembly also passed and sent two other bills to the governor.
One is known as a “Red Flag” policy. This makes it possible for family members and law enforcement to get a judge to issue an order that temporarily restricts a persons access to firearms so that they are unable to hurt themselves or others.
The third bill passed prohibits the use of bump stocks, and other devices, that make it possible to convert firearms to semi-automatic weapons that fire like a machine gun, such as the one used by the shooter in the 2017 Las Vegas massacre which killed 59 and injured over 500.
“These bills will save lives and we appreciate lawmakers working late into the night to get these passed,” said Danielle Vieth, a volunteer leader of the “Moms” group.
In addition to a coalition of both those seeking gun reforms and gun owners who want to promote gun safety, the bills have also drawn support from both political parties, which is what makes them a model for what others can do across the U.S.
Two important takeaways come from this historic and sensible decision in Maryland: first, when we band together, we can change the world.
Second? Never try to best teenagers on Twitter.