A grassroots local group is hosting a community forum to build momentum for its gun-reform platform.
“Sensible Solutions for Safety,” 6:30 p.m. Thursday at North Christian Church, 850 Tipton Lane, is being sponsored by the Bartholomew County chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. An affiliated group, Bartholomew County Indivisible, is co-sponsoring the event.
Local organizers began considering a county chapter of Moms Demand Action last fall after meeting with an established group in Bloomington, said Cate Hyatt of Columbus, who co-founded the Bartholomew County chapter with fellow resident Liz Nolan-Greven.
However, it wasn’t until the Feb. 14 school shooting in Parkland, Florida, where 17 people were killed, that interest in the local chapter took off. A call-out meeting at First Presbyterian Church in Columbus drew about 40 people, Hyatt said.
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By the time of the March for Our Lives rallies, conducted March 24 in cities across America including Columbus, membership of the Bartholomew County moms group had mushroomed to 100, Hyatt said.
It is now one of 19 Moms Demand Action chapters in Indiana, she said.
“We’re not opposed to the Second Amendment,” Hyatt said. “We don’t want to take people’s guns.”
Instead, Moms Demand Action wants to create enforceable laws to keep illegal guns off the streets, Hyatt said. It also supports legislation and policies to help reduce gun violence, she said.
“These are not political issues,” she said. “These are common-sense issues.”
Hyatt said she favors universal background checks and thinks there needs to be better ways to report and identify individuals who might do harm to others.
“We want to set reasonable limits on where, when and how loaded guns are carried,” said Hyatt, who retired in 2015 from Indiana University in Bloomington as an educator consultant.
Hyatt described gun violence as an epidemic and hopes that the work of Moms Demand Action will bring about change.
Thursday’s forum will include an overview of Moms Demand Action, presented by Rachel Guglielmo of the Bloomington chapter. The impact of gun violence on people of color will be highlighted during the forum by Brittany King, organizer of the Columbus chapter of Black Lives Matter.
The forum also is meant to provide information to anyone who may be interested in joining the Bartholomew County chapter of Moms Demand Action, Nolan-Greven said.
The group, which has a leadership team of eight, is open to anyone regardless of age or gender, Hyatt said.
The Bartholomew County chapter hopes to see a student group created at some point and believes that students will have a strong influence, she said.
“The incident in Florida woke a lot of people up,” Hyatt said. “We’ll walk alongside them and change will happen. These kids know they can make a difference.”
Moms Demand Action plans to attend a Rally for Change outside the Indiana Statehouse April 20, the 19th anniversary of the fatal Columbine High School shootings in Colorado, where 15 people died — including the two perpetrators.
Students from across the country, including individuals at Columbus high schools, are expected to walk out of their schools that day — a Friday — to protest gun violence.
“We’re just part of a massive movement and we just want to do our part,” Hyatt said. “We just felt like we had to make an impact.”
She encourages the public to get involved.
“We’re building on the work others have done and be a force for legislators to improve our communities,” Hyatt said.
The Bartholomew County chapter of Moms Demand Action was formally created in December and has a leadership of eight individuals. The organization is working to grow the number of members and is open for anyone interested in joining.
More information: Call co-organizer Cate Hyatt at 812-322-4344 or e-mail email@example.com. Individuals can also get involved with Moms Demand Action by texting READY to 64433.
What: Sensible Solutions for Safety community awareness forum
Who: Presented by Moms Demand Action and Bartholomew County Indivisible
When: 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday
Where: North Christian Church, 850 Tipton Lane, Columbus