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Moms around the country chose an unusual way to advocate for gun control over the weekend: lemonade.
According to Moms Demand Action, by failing to pass comprehensive gun legislation, Congress gave them lemons. So they turned them into lemonade.
The nationwide action included a group of moms and kids who handed out beverages at their own stand in Astoria Saturday.
The organization was founded by Indianapolis mother Shannon Watts just after the Sandy Hook school shooting in Newtown, Conn., which left 28 people dead in December.
The group was started to advocate for gun reform laws, much like the way Mothers Against Drunk Driving was created in response to drunk driving.
Members used their lemonade stands as an opportunity to spread awareness about the issue of gun violence.
Wendy Szymanski, leader of the New York chapter, said some chapters gave out lemonade in exchange for donations, but because of complicated New York City permitting laws, the local chapter simply handed out lemonade to foster discussion with passersby and collect petition signatures.
Moms Demand Action has several goals they are working toward, but their first priority is to push for legislation that would require background checks for all gun and ammunition purchases.
Szymanski said the Sandy Hook shooting was a wake-up call for her as well as other members.
“We sat up and realized we have terrible gun laws in this country,” she said. “The NRA is the only one keeping tabs on this issue. As a result we have laws that defy common sense and really exist for the benefit of no one except the gun industry.”
Szymanski said she spent some time looking for a way to advocate for stricter gun laws, eventually leading her to Moms Demand Action.
“Before I knew it, I was designing fliers, getting permits and marching across the Brooklyn Bridge,” she said.
Szymanski cited a widely-reported statistic, based on evidence from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, that eight children and teens die every day from gun violence. She herself has a 15-month-old daughter, but she said she is concerned for all children.
“It could be anyone’s child,” she said. “It needs to change. We need to treat this like the public health crisis that it is.”
The local chapter encompasses the five boroughs as well as Westchester County and Long Island.
For more information, visit momsdemandaction.org. To join, visit the website and click “Find Your Local Chapter.”
Reach reporter Bianca Fortis by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4546.
©2013 Community Newspaper Group
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