Gun rally

Mom Demand Action held a rally Monday to encourage action in stemming the epidemic of gun violence.

On a street corner known for toilet paper and tailgate cheers, Toomer’s Corner looked a little different Monday evening.

Mothers, fathers, friends and supporters gathered together at Toomer’s Corner in downtown Auburn to honor those who have died from gun violence at the Moms Demand Action event.

Supporters held signs and lit candles, sharing their experiences and convictions with one another.

Anne Leader, Auburn’s local spokeswoman, has been an advocate for gun safety since high school when her friend Rachel committed suicide by firearm.

“In 2015, there was a large gun violence awareness walk in New York, and I saw about it on Facebook and thought, people in Auburn wear orange so maybe we can have one here, and that was kind of how it started,” Leader said.

After Orlando’s Pulse nightclub shooting in 2016, Leader and other Auburn supporters decided to formalize their own Moms Demand Action group and held a vigil at Toomer’s.

“It was a really wonderful opportunity to come together as a community and mourn, but also to have a call to action to try to change this from happening again,” she said.

After weekend incidents in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, the Auburn group gathered Monday in a peaceful movement to share their beliefs on gun violence.

The event was not only a protest or movement, but a memorial for victims of gun violence. Small white candles were handed out to each participant to hold. After a prayer, Leader shared what Moms Demand Action stands for and why they had gathered.

“We cannot let ourselves become numb. We must change our laws and change our culture,” Leader told the crowd.

A moment of silence was held and participants were encouraged to share the names of those they knew who were killed.

A bell was rung 22 times for each of the victims in El Paso, 10 times for the victims in Dayton and six times for those killed in Alabama over the past weekend.

“We have these mass shootings far too often and they are shocking and devastating, but we also want to remind people that on average 100 people are shot and killed in the United States every day, and those don’t make the headlines,” she said. “So we want to honor all victims of gun violence with action by working every day to reduce gun violence in all of our communities.”

Moms Demand Action is a movement that encourages not only moms, but everyone, to stand for fewer gun tragedies.

“We like to say if you have or have had a mom, you belong in Moms Demand Action,” Leader said.

Moms Demand Action is also a part of the Everytown Survivor Network. As the name implies, the network is composed of survivors of gun violence that aim to end future gun violence. Victims include those who witnessed, were injured by, or have family members affected by guns.

Auburn’s Moms Demand Action group also includes a program called Be S.M.A.R.T., which is aimed at teaching adults how to keep their children and other children safe from firearms.

“The S.M.A.R.T. acronym: the S stands for ‘secure your guns safely; locked, unloaded and the ammunition stored separately’,” Harriette Huggins, the Alabama chapter lead for public education and outreach, said. “M is ‘model appropriate behavior around guns.’

“A is ‘ask about the presence of guns in other peoples’ homes;’ R is ‘recognize the role of guns in suicide’ and T is ‘To tell other people’.”

Huggins said that through the ‘Be S.M.A.R.T.’ program, they have shared with civic clubs, churches and Lee County sheriff’s deputies.

As a grandmother of five, Huggins said she believes in Moms Demand Action because she does not want her grandchildren to fear for their lives at school, in a movie theater, at Walmart, at a concert or anywhere else.

“I look at them and say ‘I have to do this’ and take action,” Huggins said.


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