By Vivian Patterson
“Strong gun laws save lives”. This was the message delivered by Susan Cone, the Naples group volunteer leader and Gay Valimont volunteer leader for the Florida Chapter of Moms Demand Action who were the main speakers at the November meeting of the Democratic Women’s Club of Marco (DWCM) group of over 60 attendees.
The mission of this national group is to reduce deaths by gun violence in America. The Florida Chapter of the group is the largest and most active in the country! They work to change laws, to elect gun-sense candidates, and to change our culture to a more gun-sense frame of mind. They offered compelling statistics: Of the over 1 million people shot each year 100 people die every day, with two thirds from suicide. In the United States you are 25% more likely to be killed by guns than any other country in the world. States which implemented strict gun laws find that deaths by gun violence reduced by 25% in one year!!!
Florida does not require background checks for non-licensed dealers and for dealers online. We still have not covered the gun-show loophole or the online-loophole yet half of all Floridians want strict background checks for all gun purchases. Mrs. Cone pointed out that a 7-year-old can buy a gun online in Florida. In fact, Florida has the second most gun deaths in the United States. Easy access to firearms is a problem.
Moms Against Gun Violence works to pass Red Flag Laws. In 51% of mass shootings, the shooter exhibited warning signs before the shooting. With Red Flag laws in place, family members and others can report and “red flag” someone who could, with a gun, be a threat to themselves or to someone else. The shooting in Parkland might have been prevented with such a law in place.
After the Parkland shooting, the tone in Florida has changed about gun violence. The Florida legislature changed the open carry law and forbids guns on campuses, airports, and schools. The outspoken students of Parkland made a difference. In 2019, over 500 people showed up in Tallahassee to try to convince the legislature to pass background checks and “red flag” laws. Currently, there is a public awareness campaign to get the red-flag laws passed. Hopefully, they will be passed this year.
In Collier County, funding for safety officers had been reduced. Moms Demand Action met with the School Board and now officers in schools are funded. The outreach and motto of the group is SMART. “Being SMART saves lives.” Secure guns, be a responsible Model, Ask about unsecured guns in homes, Recognize signs of suicide and possible gun violence, and Tell peers if you suspect a problem.
Marco Island is not a city without threats of gun violence. Several members of the group gave personal experiences and several churches and the Synagogue have hired policemen to stand guard at all services and events.
Finally, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America urges all of us to get involved and write to our Florida Senators and Representatives to pass background checks on ALL gun sales and to expand Red-Flag laws to allow petitions for risk protection orders to be filed by family members. You can also contact Gay Valimont at email@example.com and Susan Cone at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in joining the group or to find out more information.
Mary Cummings of the 2020 Census Team presented briefly about the importance of compiling a complete and accurate Census and the current need for help with the 2020 Census. They are now recruiting Census workers for Collier County. Workers will be paid $17/hour, including training hours. If interested, you can call 847-404-0904 or apply on line at https:/2020census.gov/jobs.
The next meeting of DWCMarco will be January 14, 2020 at 5 PM at Mackle Park Community Center. We wish everyone a Happy and Safe Holiday Season.