Moms marching from Indiana to Illinois to spotlight ease of gun trafficking: I want to bring purpose to (my sons) death
The day before her oldest child was shot and killed, Brenda Mitchell remembers looking up at a blazing sky and thanking God for all she had.
The following morning, Mitchell said she got a call: Her son was lying in the street with a sheet over his body.
I stopped and prayed that God didnt change the way that I viewed the world, Mitchell said, recalling the events of nearly 15 years ago. I changed, but not in the way I would think.
On Saturday morning, Mitchell will march with other members of Moms Demand Action from Indiana to Illinois to highlight how easily guns are trafficked across state lines. The group will gather at 9:30 a.m. at Wolf Lake Memorial Park in Hamond and walk about 3 1/2 miles to Calumet Beach State Park. Anyone can join the march.
We want the killings to stop, Mitchell said. Enough. Not one more. We want others to understand whats happening in our community."
For moms who have lost children to gun violence, groups such as Moms Demand Action provide support and a way to get involved in local and nationwide activism, Mitchell said. We need a purpose bigger than our pain, she said. Its important to do what we can so other moms dont deal with this pain.
Nearly 60% of guns recovered in Chicago come from out-of-state dealers, with more than 20% traced back to Indiana, according to a 2017 Gun Trace Report.
The moms hope their walk will pressure the Illinois Senate to act on a bill that would impose new background check requirements when guns are transferred between private parties, Mitchell said. It passed the House in February. This law has the potential to save a life, she said.
Valerie Burgest, a volunteer with Moms Demand Action Illinois, said she believes that closing this loophole in gun sales is a first step in stopping the violence. Also a survivor mom, she said her sons murder is still an open investigation and she cant say where the gun came from. But given the statistics, she thinks theres a good chance the weapon was trafficked from another state.
To me the impact on families and the impact on the communities is obvious, Burgest said. How are we going to stem the violence if we cant stop the guns coming into our state.
Burgests son, Craig Williams, would have turned 30 this year. She insists on using the present tense when talking about him because hes still right here with me, she said, gesturing to her heart.
He was shot seven years ago while leaving a store after buying snacks, leaving behind two young sons. Hes my only child, that loss for me is ... she said. Her words trailed off. Im broken, Im never going to heal. But I can channel my pain.
While she marches Saturday, Mitchell said shes going to reflect on her journey with Moms Demand Action. She said her son would be honored that shes moved past her pain to make a difference.
This is my reality, my reality is tough, she said. Walking those 3.7 miles is going to be easy.
Moms Demand Action was formed by Shannon Watts, a mother of five in Zionsville, Ind., after a gunman walked into the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut in December 2012 and fatally shot 20 children.
Originally only a Facebook group where moms could discuss gun safety, the group expanded into chapters across the United States, an online conversation quickly becoming an offline movement. The group holds events to promote gun safety awareness, lobbies for policies and brings together survivor moms.
"Mothers are mobilize-able, Watts said in a recent interview, comparing the momentum of the group to MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) in the 1980s. Were all moms. Its almost like a sisterhood among all of us. Here we are this badass group of women taking on one of the toughest special interests.
We are afraid our children will be taken away and thats what drives us every day, not just to protect our own families or our own communities but everybodys kids, she continued, adding that Moms Demand Action is not anti-gun, just anti-gun violence.
Mitchell said Moms Demand Action has been a life changer."
When were in a room together, we understand each other, no words need to be said," Mitchell said. We know the seriousness of the work that we have to do.
Mitchell and others in the group plan to walk across the state line periodically in the future, until the law has changed. Well continue," she said. "We wont stop because it has to stop.
Edited by InterestedBystander, 25 October 2019 - 12:27 PM.