For most of my life, I’ve called Iowa home. I proudly attended Iowa public schools, and after four years out of state getting my undergraduate degree, I returned to Iowa to work as an RN, got married, and decided to raise my family here.
For my daughters, like all children in America, active shooter drills at school were the norm. I was naive about the prevalence of gun violence, and felt safe in my Iowa community.
When my oldest went off to college, I wanted to do everything in my power to ensure her safety, and was mortified to learn that some states allow civilians to carry guns on college campuses. I reached out to the Iowa state chapter of Moms Demand Action to see how to get involved, and eventually started the first local group in the state.
Over the last 5 years, I’ve learned much about the unfathomable scope of gun violence in the United States — every day, more than 100 Americans are killed with guns and twice as many are wounded. Mass shootings gain national attention, but daily gun violence in our cities, domestic incidents involving guns, suicides and unintentional shootings show that gun violence touches every community. Working alongside the passionate volunteers in this organization, I’ve also learned that by working together, we can make a difference.
Across the country, Moms Demand Action volunteers are testifying at statehouses, working with local community groups to reduce city gun violence, talking to community members about secure storage, and working to elect officials who are committed to enacting common sense gun safety laws. We share images online of the amazing work happening in the field, and both lawmakers and the nation are taking notice.
For years, gun violence prevention was a political third rail. Now, candidates are competing to be the best on this issue. Iowa’s first-in-the-nation status allowed us countless opportunities to witness this firsthand. The presidential hopefuls all sought out our red shirts for a question or photo op. Their campaigns shared our tweets and Instagram posts, and organizers and the candidates themselves worked hard for our commit-to-caucus cards. Thousands of images from across the nation of our volunteers making calls and knocking doors ahead of the 2018 midterms were proof that Moms Demand Action will get the work done.
I’m a 54-year-old mom and retired nurse from Iowa, but I’ve come to see that my voice matters. Moms, dads, grandparents, survivors of gun violence, veterans, educators, students and more make up our movement. With chapters in every state and Washington, D.C., hundreds of thousands of volunteers and nearly six million supporters, we make up the largest gun violence prevention organization in the nation.
We’ll hold our elected officials accountable – from our state legislators right here in Iowa to the presidential level – and if they won’t support common sense gun safety, we’ll vote them out of office.
Let that be a warning to our state lawmakers working to roll back Iowa’s gun safety laws instead of passing a popular and life-saving extreme risk bill. When our families lives and the safety of our communities is at stake, we are unstoppable.
by Rebecca Truszkowski