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Gun violence ignites advocacy at state Capitol

Gun violence ignites advocacy at state Capitol

February 21st, 2018 by Joe Gamm in Local News

Participants of the Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America rally march Tuesday from Capitol Plaza Hotel to the Capitol.

Photo by Julie Smith /News Tribune.

In spite of cold, heavy rain, hundreds showed up at the state Capitol on Tuesday from an organization dedicated to influencing legislators, local governments and companies to establish "common-sense gun reforms."

Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America came about after Adam Lanza shot and killed 20 children and six staff members Dec. 14, 2012, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, said Becky Morgan, the volunteer chapter leader for Missouri.

The organization has grown to more than 4 million people nationwide.

The numbers appeared to swell last week after another mass shooting at a school, said Kristin Bowen, Columbia's local group leader. A 19-year-old shot and killed 17 people at a Parkland, Florida, high school. At least 15 others were wounded.

Normally, about 25-30 people show up to the meetings of the Columbia group, which began meeting about three years ago. The group held its monthly meeting last week.

"We had 70 people show up," Bowen said. "It was very intense."

Attendees were saddened and angered by the most recent school shooting, she said.

They wanted to attend Tuesday's lobby day and to sit in on hearings on gun legislation scheduled Tuesday night for the Missouri House of Representatives' General Laws Committee.

"Then a day before the hearings, hold the presses," Bowen said. "It's not happening."

Because of the mood in communities and Moms Demand Action holding its lobby day Tuesday, "lawmakers decided today would not be the best day to have hearings on gun bills," she said.

Instead, hearings were postponed until Monday.

Republican lawmakers said they wanted to postpone the hearings on firearms bills to schedule Democrats' firearms bills to be heard in the discussions.

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A Jefferson City mother, Lisa Sanning, clad in a red T-shirt emblazoned with "Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America" stood shoulder-to-shoulder in a Capitol Plaza Hotel meeting room with hundreds of other similarly dressed men and women Tuesday morning. The plan was for all of them to divvy up into lobbying work groups, walk to the Capitol and tell their local legislators to support common-sense gun bills.

Sanning said she can't remember what made her go to the group's home page.

"With all the shootings, I kind of numbed myself," Sanning said. "We just had a scare at Thomas Jefferson (Middle School) that was terrifying."

On Jan. 29, police said, a student who was upset about several things was overheard discussing the situation with another student, according to a police department news release. The conversation ultimately was shared on social media. The threat identified possibly bringing a firearm to school.

The student's case was turned over to juvenile court authorities.

Now, Sanning said, her family sometimes see dangers in places they never had before, she said. The Florida shooting changed the way they think.

"I read about those kids in Florida texting their parents and telling them, 'Mom, I may never see you again,'" Sanning said. "It's horrible. No more kids should die this way."

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