This article was first published in JWeekly.
As soon as Sara Smirin heard the news about the Sandy Hook school massacre last December, she posted her heartbreak and outrage on Facebook.
She immediately heard back from friends who felt the same way.
“It started with a bunch of moms talking to one another and saying they were not going to take it anymore,” said Smirin, 45, marketing director for Jewish LearningWorks in San Francisco and the mother of two young sons.
Los Altos mom Ronit Bodner was one of them. “With every mass shooting since Columbine, I’d be shocked, but then I’d forget about it as the news cycle went on to focus on something else,” said Bodner, a 39-year-old attorney and mother of three. “But Newtown was my call to arms. Complacency suddenly felt like complicity.”
Smirin and Bodner reached out to Shannon Watts, the Indianapolis-based founder of Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense in America, a grassroots, non-partisan organization that sprang up in response to the Connecticut tragedy. Originally called One Million Moms For Gun Control, it has since been rebranded and has garnered 80,000 members, 2,000 of them in the Bay Area.
Smirin volunteered to become the group’s national COO. It’s a huge undertaking, but she believes that women like her with relevant experience should step up to lead this social media–based campaign. “In particular, moms in Silicon Valley have brought important networks and resources to help make things happen,” she said.
Kim Samek, another local Jewish mom and attorney, has volunteered to be general counsel for the organization.
Moms Demand Action is working on the local, state and national levels, pushing for key legislative items that it believes will greatly reduce the level of gun violence and gun fatalities. “We’re focused on gun safety and commonsense regulations. Our agenda is not extreme,” explained Michelle Sandberg, a 39-year-old pediatrician and mother of three from Atherton who sees this as a public health issue.
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© 2013 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.