I am a mother of three who loves nothing more than life on our farm. My husband and I own guns, we hunt, and someday we will teach our children how to hunt as well. Guns are part of our culture and our identity, as well as a daily fact of life in the rural community where we are raising our children.
I am also a tireless advocate for gun violence prevention, a leader in the Virginia chapter of Moms Demand Action and a working mom who spent nearly every weekend this fall campaigning for legislative candidates who promised to fight for stronger gun laws for the commonwealth.
While the NRA claims to be the voice of gun owners, most gun owners are more like me — we support common sense gun laws and are appalled by our nation’s gun violence crisis that kills 100 Americans every day and wounds hundreds more.
As a mother, I live with the visceral fear that it’s only a matter of time before a child brings a loaded gun to my kids’ school because it wasn’t properly locked up at home. After losing my own father to suicide 12 years ago, I worry it’s only a matter of time before another family in my community mourns the loss of a loved one. As an American living through our country’s gun violence epidemic, I’m all too aware that it’s only a matter of time before my phone pings with a text from a friend telling me to turn on the news because there’s been another mass shooting. Those texts, whether from my Republican friends or my Democrat friends, are always followed by the same message: This is insane. What do we do?
So I chose to do something. I work full-time as a social worker and a mother of three kids under the age of six, but I chose to dedicate the time and energy I have to canvassing and calling to elect gun sense candidates in Virginia. This fall, I have often woken up before the sun, gotten my children dressed, cooked them breakfast and then bundled all of us into the car to speak with my fellow Virginians and urge them to vote for gun sense champions.
And I didn’t do it alone. Across Virginia and the nation, Moms Demand Action volunteers stood up to help us win here, making more than 100,000 calls to voters, knocking on tens of thousands of doors and sending hundreds of thousands of texts in Virginia during this election cycle.
There were many long days over the past few months, but I found myself waking up energized to do it all over again. Why? Because we’re winning, and this movement needs voices like mine: rural gun owners who can challenge the NRA’s deadly and inaccurate narrative that the fight for gun safety is “us versus them.”
At my core, I am a gun owner and a gun violence prevention advocate. I believe those two identities can and must coexist. In fact, I believe that gun owners can and should be the stewards of gun safety in America.
On some days, my work brought me to voters’ doorsteps to have a frank conversation about gun safety. Some days, I was called to speak at town halls or big forums. Always, my work meant sacrificing sacred family time to spend more time in my car or talking to strangers. But in the end, it was worth it: We won big in Virginia, and we showed America what a gun sense victory in 2020 could look like, too.
I knew that victory was possible the moment I saw so many children out on the campaign trail this year. It wasn’t just my own kids, or those of other Moms Demand Action volunteers who, like me, gave up their weekends and evenings to help get out the vote. I witnessed generations of Virgnians canvassing the entire state to deliver one unified message — enough is enough.
So while we celebrate the victory in Virginia, know that Moms Demand Action volunteers like me are just getting started. We will carry this work into the 2020 presidential and state legislative fights — and beyond.
This vital work is about making this country safer for all of us, and as a mother and a gun owner, I am proud to be a part of it.