The NRA’s Mom Problem

As a mom who has written about gun legislation and senseless gun violence for almost two years now, I’ve learned a few things about the Internet, human nature, American culture, gun advocates, the NRA, and myself.  I came to write about guns after the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut in December 2012.  That dark day changed me in profound and lasting ways.

Another mother impacted by that day’s events was a gal by the name of Shannon Watts, an Indianapolis mom and former communications executive.  Where I was moved to write about the incidents of December 14, 2012, she was moved to create a grassroots campaign ultimately called Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.

Some might say that Ms. Watts has been successful because she has created a movement that has drawn a tremendous social media presence. Some might say her success can be measured by aligning herself with former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s well oiled gun control campaign, Everytown for Gun Safety. Others might suggest that her success can be seen in national chains like Starbucks and Target rethinking their gun policies after feeling the heat from her organization.

I think her success can best be measured by the NRA clearly being afraid of her.

And, yes, I do believe the NRA is afraid of a mother.  One mother.

How else would you explain the takedown piece they published recently in their propaganda publication, America’s 1st Freedom?  Written by Dave Kopel, the article seems to suggest that Ms. Watts is pulling a fast one on America by painting herself as a stay-at-home mom, when in reality she is nothing more than a shill for Bloomberg.  A highly educated, very experienced shill.  A trained strategist, if you will, in mom jeans.  Pffft.

Ignoring the ridiculously sexist graphics that accompanied the article, Kopel does little to move the NRA’s agenda forward with his article. Instead, he is pandering to the same kind of ill informed, misogynistic, far right base that got the Open Carry Texas movement in such hot water earlier this summer.

When faced with women who dare to speak out against gun violence, women who support education around gun safety, women who coordinate campaigns to educate others about common sense gun laws, these gun advocates — most of them men — use gendered tactics, primarily fear and intimidation, to try and silence us (and yes, I count myself among them, having been visited by more than a few online trolls).  Spitting, rape threats, publishing addresses and phone numbers of gun sense advocates who also happen to be moms, are just some of the cowardly tactics used.

The thing is, though, it’s not working.

In my years of being a Cancer Mom and now childhood cancer advocate, I have frequently used the phrase, “Never underestimate a committed mother.”  Shannon Watts is a committed mother.  She is also an advocate, communications professional, intelligent and composed speaker, and force of nature.  Those things, you see, are not mutually exclusive.

While Mr. Kopel seems to suggest in his article that being a stay-at-home mom only involves the cooking and the cleaning and the wiping of noses and bottoms, he fails to grasp the wealth of abilities so many women who opt out of the work force to focus on families hold.  Hell, our First Lady is a prime example of this.

And so am I.

As a professional with a graduate degree, I was thrust into the role of stay-at-home mom with my daughter’s cancer diagnosis in 2007.  Her treatment was too intense and exhaustive in its scope and required a stay-at-home parent.  Truth be told, I was a bit of an employed mom snob before cancer came a callin’, never thinking I could be fulfilled by full-time child care and home maintenance.  And double truth be told, I am still not completely fulfilled by those things.

That’s why I blog.  That’s why I advocate.  That’s why I fundraise for childhood cancer research.  It’s probably why Shannon Watts does what she does, too.

What the NRA fails to grasp is that mothers are allowed to be multi-dimensional.  We are allowed to be competent care providers and homemakers and still hella talented as gun safety advocates or childhood cancer advocates or as whatever the hell we want to be.  Part of what makes mothers so successful as advocates are because we hold those dear children we are raising so close to us — their well being fuels our fires.

When I write about guns, I brace myself for the comments that will follow. I know that those posts will find readers that don’t reflect my typical reader.  I have learned that the comments will be mean and sexist and threatening and relentless.

I don’t care.  And neither, apparently, does Shannon Watts, which is precisely why the NRA has a mom problem.

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