Not Just a Stand Against Gun Violence, But for Women

(Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

In the wake of yet another tragic gun-violence related killing this week, we are once again reminded about the need for more comprehensive gun violence laws — federally and across all the states. The Women Donors Network understands that women are ready to take action, organize, and lead on ending gun violence—we’ve done our research. And now WDN is seeing that research in action.

Early this month, Sarah Clements, a student organizer, tweeted actress Amy Schumer “Hey Amy! I’ve got you too, girl!!”—a thank you, but also a rallying cry of sisterhood in the fight against gun violence. Clements had asked Schumer to “be a voice for our generation and for women” and Schumer answered by teaming up with her cousin, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-New York), to push new gun control legislation. Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton on Thursday called for an end to gun violence, saying “We cannot wait any longer.”

Public narratives of women united for positive change are exactly the stories that can ignite more women—a group whose unique views on gun violence prevention have the potential to drastically reduce gun violence. Women make up the majority of voters. And according to WDN’s January 2013 Feldman Group and Chesapeake Beach Consulting survey of 1,502 women, women see the issue of gun violence differently than men do, supporting nearly unanimously a multi-faceted approach to gun violence prevention that includes keeping guns out of the wrong hands and out of schools. But women also want to hear from people who speak their language and share their values. They want to hear the experiences and stories of other women, which means they value those stories being told, as well as the courage and leadership needed to speak out, to make it safer for them to speak out, too.

Clements and Schumer have more in common than a passion for smart gun policy—they share in having personal experience with the horror bad gun policy is wreaking in our communities. Clements’ mother survived Sandy Hook, and in a Lafayette movie theater last month when a man gunned down 11 and killed 3, including himself, Schumer’s new film Trainwreck was playing. Throughout their public interactions, both Clements and Schumer have remained transparent, open, and curious with each other, mutually tweeting support for staying out front on the issue.

Clements and Schumer are a testament to a value shared across a growing movement—“Moms on Patrol” in Chicago, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, #ProtectAllWomen, and the many organizations and communities represented at a 2013 WDN convening of women against gun violence in DC—to leave issue-based silos behind, cross party lines, create mutual conditions of curiosity for new solutions, and take up a broad, inclusive, coalition fight to tackle what women see as the main root causes: domestic violence, a glut of available guns in the U.S., turning a blind eye on mental health issues, and the impacts of media, drugs, and poverty on a culture of violence.

Women and the traction their work on gun violence prevention is gaining has a message: we’re not willing to accept the same old answers. Clements and Schumer did not accept that nothing could be done. Across the country, at every level of our culture, women are not accepting that gun violence is a given. WDN has mobilized and funded important work to raise a gender lens on the issue, and what they have found is that women are not only active, but also powerful agents of change.

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