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Moms Demand Action launches Boston chapter following Parkland shooting

The Boston meeting of Moms Demand Action on March 8. PHOTO BY BRICEN STANDISH/ DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

Concerned mothers from the Boston area congregated Thursday to address gun violence. Hosted by Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, the session took place at the Old South Church near Copley Square.

Rev. Nancy Taylor opened the event with a spoken word performance.

“Welcome moms, welcome you demanding moms, you outstanding moms. Welcome to you who have had it up to here, had enough, need to get tough, who mean to show them the stuff you are made of,” Taylor said. “I see you are made of beating, aching hearts and cunning, savvy smarts.”

The meeting was the first gathering in Boston for the national organization Moms Demand Action. The gathering was geared toward gaining new members and creating awareness for a new bill. The bill, known as the Extreme Risk Protection Order and the “red flag” bill, marks the latest legislative push in Massachusetts for stronger gun control.

“Not one more [shooting]. Enough is enough,” said state Rep. Marjorie Decker, chief sponsor of the bill and the event’s lead speaker.

Decker’s bill would allow family or friends of a dangerous or suicidal individual to express concern about the individual’s safety to authorities, at which point they would confiscate all firearms and ammunition from the individual in question for one year.

Currently, the bill awaits a report from the state legislature’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee, which is scheduled for April 15.

Molly Malloy, the legislative leader for the Massachusetts chapter of MDA, said she believes this bill is the next step for citizens fighting to prevent mass shootings, like February’s shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

“Right now, Massachusetts has another opportunity to provide another tool to keep guns out of dangerous hands,” Malloy said. “These Extreme Risk Protection Orders could empower families to work with lawmakers to act before gun deaths occur.”

Decker spoke about the semantic issues around gun control and need for this bill and thanked MDA for supporting her efforts to enact ERPO in Massachusetts.

Founded by stay-at-home mother Shannon Watts following 2012’s Sandy Hook shooting, MDA is a public, entirely volunteer-based organization. While Massachusetts already has several chapters of MDA, this is Boston’s first local group.

Sonya Coleman, the state deputy chapter leader for MDA, helped execute the launch of its Boston chapter. Having being with MDA for five years, Coleman has seen the group grow from state level to national level. But she was still surprised by the turnout of Thursday night’s event.

“If we get 30, it’s a good turnout,” Coleman said. “We filled up the 950 person registration.”

Malloy, Coleman and the event’s other speakers all said the Parkland shooting has been catalyst for increased attendance and growing interest in MDA.

“It’s a tipping point,” Coleman said. “Thoughts and prayers aren’t working anymore.”

MDA has also partnered with the newly founded Students Demand Action to hold an international “March for Our Lives” rally on March 24.

In total, more than 725 marches will be held worldwide. Boston’s will take place on the Boston Common, beginning at noon. Coleman is on the organizing team for the march, though the event is primarily student-led.

The rest of the meeting featured several speakers, like Jody Marchand, a gun violence survivor from Westford. The volunteer and representative speakers offered basic training on advocacy and explained the MDA’s primary goals. They also set new members up with text alerts, emails and volunteer sheets for future events.

MDA often holds protests, rallies, marches and meetings to increase membership. Following Thursday’s meeting, new members poured out from the gathering in Old South Church.

Emily Giorgetti, a Belmont resident and mother of three, was one of the 950 RSVPs who attended the chapter launch. This was her first ever MDA meeting.

“[Gun violence] is something I’ve been concerned about for a while,” Giorgetti said. “I plan on taking action.”

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